Friday, September 6, 2013

The Great Pumpkin

Fall is here at long last. I don’t know of anyone who is immune to the charms of autumn. The crisp cool air, the riot of colour in the trees, and the embrace of a cozy sweater.
With the onset of fall also comes many traditions. Going back to school of course, but also a trip to the pumpkin patch. Even though it is not yet October, the feeling in the air is ripe for pumpkin picking.

On Saturday I took my 2 boys to Pumpkinfest at Gammondale Farm.  They frolicked in the hay, enjoyed a pumpkin shaped cookie, and watched in amazement as gourds flew through the air at the Pumpkin catapult, culminating with a satisfying splat as each airborne pumpkin eventually met its messy fate.
After decorating a mini pumpkin with festive ribbons and feathers, we set out to find our lovely Halloween pumpkins. The boys each picked one to bring home and eventually carve and I chose a few of the edible squashes.
First- I picked  up a blue Hubbard Squash- I actually picked it because it was so ugly I felt bad for it. Leave it to me to get emotional about a gourd.  It looks like a pachyderm squash.
Secondly- I chose the festively whimsical Rouge vif d’Etampes, also known as the Cinderella pumpkin, due to its resemblance to the pumpkin which ferried Cinderella to the ball. This heirloom variety of pumpkin was allegedly served at the second American thanksgiving- so the variety has been around for a while. It is this beauty that I decided to cook first.  My one pumpkin yielded a ton of flesh and I had not only enough to make a monster batch of Pumpkin gnocchi, but also a huge pot of delectable pumpkin soup.  This soup is truly the taste of fall. It is warm, satisfying, and even good for you!  Ready to go?
Pumpkin Soup
1 pumpkin
2 apples or pears
1 cup apple juice
S and P
Maple syrup
 Heat your oven to 400 degrees. While it is heating prepare your pumpkin.
VERY CAREFULLY Cut the pumpkin into quarters. Scoop out the seeds and discard or save for toasting.
Place the pumpkin pieces on a cookie sheet and coat with a tablespoon of olive oil- use your hands to rub it in. Put the apples or pears on the sheet as well, and put into the preheated oven.
Roast 30 minutes to an hour. You will know that the pumpkin is cooked through when a knife slides easily through the hard outer shell and through the flesh. When this happens remove from the oven and let cool.
Once cooled- spoon the soft squash away from the shell and into a large pot. Cut the apples into quarters, and remove the skin and seeds.  Put that into the pot as well. 
Add your apple juice, and then enough water to cover the pumpkin.
Bring to a simmer and let the pieces of squash really fall apart.
Remove from heat and process with an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender.
Return to heat, and begin to add seasonings. Add some salt and pepper, a few pinches of cinnamon or clove, and a few sage leaves.
Let the soup simmer until it is at the desired consistency.
Check your seasonings, and adjust if needed.
To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and add a drizzle of maple syrup and splash of cream if desired. Find a really sexy sage leaf, and add as a garnish.
Such a lovely way to celebrate the season!

(originally published 9/26/2011 on

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