Pumpkins and Campaign Posters
Every November the jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins stay outside on stoops and stairs way after Hallowe’en like so many campaign lawn signs after an election. But the campaigns are over and the posters are yesterday’s news while the pumpkins are still fresh and relevant, right up to Thanksgiving.
Somehow pumpkins start to feel out of place only after the first big snow.
Oh my. I forgot about that snow …
Probably because during the now infamous October snowfall in Connecticut — a friend of mine had no electricity for 9 days and as of this morning still does not have cable or internet service — I was in Egypt, where it was 110 degrees in Abu Simbel, near the Sudan border.
I loved coming back to pumpkins, even though I missed Hallowe’en. The autumn landscape helped put me back to the right time and place.
November. A chill in the air. Sweater weather but still sunny. Those campaign posters will be taken down by next weekend. But the pumpkins are still about. Time to think about pumpkin food. Like quickbread and vegetable side dishes and soup.
Here’s a good Pumpkin Soup recipe. This dish would be a perfect starter for a fall dinner or for Thanksgiving.
By the way, if you want to serve the soup in mini-pumpkins, here’s how to do it (and also have fresh, mashed pumpkin): preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Carve out a lid from each of the pumpkins, scoop out the seeds and spray the pumpkins and lids with baking spray. Place the pumpkins, upside down, and the lids, flesh side down, on a cookie sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the outside is dark orange and the inside is tender, but not too soft. Scoop most of the flesh from the inside of the pumpkin and set aside (about 2 cups). You can also use this method using one larger pumpkin.
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups pumpkin puree (canned is fine; NOT pumpkin pie mix)
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
3 cups half and half cream, coconut milk or nut milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
few gratings of nutmeg
whipped cream, plain yogurt or sour cream, optional
chopped scallions or chives, optional
Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the stock, pumpkin, tomatoes, half and half, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Stir to combine ingredients evenly. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the ingredients for 15 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. If desired, serve topped with a blob of unsweetened whipped heavy cream, plain yogurt or sour cream and garnished with chopped scallions or chives. Makes 6 servings