A few days ago, I bought a sugar pumpkin.
I had been intrigued by an article in The Daily Green about what you could do to use every inch of your carved Halloween pumpkin. Everyone toasts the seeds, but no one actually uses the pumpkin flesh. Most of our pumpkin eating experience falls next month and has to do with the dark orange stuff in the can. This article had recipes for what to do with actual, raw, pumpkin flesh, and I was sufficiently curious enough to think maybe it would make a good article for the newsletter.
Let's start with the type of pumpkin: if you're going to eat it, you don't want one of the huge ones you're going to carve and leave on your front stoop. This is the first problem with using every inch of your carved pumpkin - you don't actually want to eat the big ones you want to carve, because the flesh is usually not as sweet.
So I started by cutting the top of the sugar pumpkin like I was going to carve it. I was, I actually like the look of a bunch of little carved pumpkins as opposed to the big ones. Here I came to the 2nd problem: after removing the seeds and the strings, the pumpkin was perfect for carving, not too thick, and the skin of the sugar pumpkin is not nearly as tough and thick as the bigger ones. Unfortunately, this meant I wasn't really going to be able to get any of the flesh out and still leave enough flesh in to maintain the integrity of the pumpkin for carving.
I was going to stop here and tell you all to just carve your pumpkins as usual and forget about trying to use it all, just throw it in the compost pile and your eco-karma is still good. But as the hollowed out pumpkin sat on the counter, I thought make I should try the pumpkin bisque soup recipe, so at least I had something pumpkin-y to share. After all, I had purchased an eating pumpkin, I supposed the least I could do was attempt to eat it.
So here's the soup recipe. A few notes, though, namely that the soup is simple to make, but you really must use fresh pumpkin. Don't try to substitute the canned stuff, although I guess I can't really say that since I didn't try it. Fresh pumpkin is not nearly as sweet as the stuff in the can - its actually more squash like, which makes the soup pretty light. I thought the addition of so much cider might make the soup too sweet, but I was wrong, it balances out the lack of sweetness in the pumpkin. Give it a whirl, you can always freeze the leftover pureed pumpkin as baby food (which is exactly what I'm doing, if anyone wants any).
Pumpkin Cider Bisque
Makes 4 servings
Based on a recipe from The Daily Green
Peel a sugar pumpkin (the medium/small ones) and cut flesh into 1" cubes. Steam until soft and a knife easily pierces the flesh. Puree the pumpkin until smooth.
In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk to smooth out any lumps, cooking for about a minute or two. Do not allow to brown, you don't want to make a roux. Add 2 cups whole milk and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened. Add 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree and heat through. Slowly add 2 cups apple cider. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add (2) pinches ground nutmeg, (1) pinch ground ginger and white pepper to taste. Serve hot, maybe with apple slices as a garnish.
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