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pumpkin soup recipe

Food & Drink

5 Things to Do With a Pumpkin and One Thing Not to Do, Ever.

November 6, 2016

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

FOOD WASTE

Halloween is over but pumpkin is very much in season.

5 things to do with a pumpkinPumpkins are colourful vegetables in the squash family and they come in all shapes and sizes. They’re versatile and will last for months in a cool, dry environment. I recently heard however, that 15 MILLION pumpkins are wasted in the UK every year. If you add that figure to those wasted in Ireland, everywhere that decorates their Halloween homes and gardens, that’s a colossal amount of food waste, never mind the resources that go into growing pumpkins. Can we do something about it?

Pumpkins are inexpensive and make tasty, sweet or savoury dishes yet we undervalue them. One average size pumpkin can provide a snack, soup and dessert and they are far from bland once they’ve been roasted in the oven with oil and seasoning.

We throw out 15 million pumpkins every year in the UK.
Let’s start eating them instead of binning them. Share if you want to stop the #foodwaste horror. 🎃

Posted by OLIO – The Food Sharing Revolution on Wednesday, 26 October 2016

If you’re concerned about pumpkin waste and would like to do more with them, here’s five suggestions, including saving seeds and several links to recipes. At the end of the article there’s a short video clip showing what not to do with a pumpkin, especially if you can’t seek the help of some kind friends or family…

No. 1 – How to Save a Jack O’Lantern Pumpkin

How to save pumpkin seeds

License: (license)

Once the pumpkin is carved, there’s not much we can do but before we make it into a creepy devil or spooky cat, we can save all the flesh we scoop out and cook it.

  • Remove the ‘lid’ at the stalk end by cutting a disk shape around the top with a sharp knife. Remove as much of the flesh as you can from the inside, leaving enough so you’re able to carve it without damage. Separate the seeds and leave to one side.
  • If possible, chop the flesh into large bite sized chunks and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, if not, spread the pumpkin out on a baking tray, toss in olive oil and bake in a hot oven until roasted. Pumpkins are much easier to deal with if not trying to carve them into Halloween faces and roasted pumpkin chunks can also be served hot as a side vegetable.
  • Remove the cooked flesh from the oven and allow to cool. It can now be used in soups, puree and even a tasty pie. If you don’t have time to bake or make right now, bag up the roasted flesh when it’s cool and freeze.
Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

Pumpkin Soup

No. 2 – How to Cook with Pumpkin

I was in my thirties before I tried making any kind of  soup and it’s regularly on our lunch menu now I’ve discovered how easy soup is to make. When you grow your own vegetables, soup is a free meal and becomes a great way of feeding a crowd. Making soup is also a terrific way of using up ‘gluts’ of veg and it can be frozen too.

Apart from the ingredients, a source of heat and a blender are the main pieces of kitchen gadgetry needed. Once you have those, you’ll be flying. Basically just chop up some vegetables, add them to about a litre and a half of hot water, add a stock cube, some seasoning, heat until the veg have softened, then blitz in the blender. Job done.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

Vegan No Bake Pumpkin Pie

I’ve a few pumpkin soup recipes in the archives if you’d like to try them, as well as a pumpkin rice recipe.

We used a soup recipe from The Happy Pear recently at Gleann na Bearu community garden. It has a heart warming gingery tang and it just feels like it must be doing some good. We also made this no-bake vegan Pumpkin Pie I’d urge you to try for special occasions, assuming you don’t have a nut allergy.

No. 3 – How to Save Pumpkin Seeds

If you’ve grown the pumpkin in your garden and you know the variety, you can save the seeds for replanting in the springtime as long as they weren’t from an F1 cultivar (they’re likely to revert back to their parentage if they were F1’s). Likewise, if you bought your pumpkin from a farmers market, ask the stall holder what variety they’re selling and you might be able to save those seeds. Supermarket pumpkin seeds may or may not germinate, but could be fun to try.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for HalloweenTo save the seeds, scoop out the soft, seedy, fibrous flesh inside the pumpkin with a metal spoon and place into a colander.

Pick out as many of the seeds as you can before sifting through the rest under a tap of running water. (Tip: do this holding the colander over a bowl and use the drained water for the plants or flush the toilet with it.)

Leave to dry fully on parchment paper on a windowsill then pop into brown envelopes, label and store in an airtight tin until you’re ready to sow them. Always sow more than you need for when some aren’t viable. To test the viability of seeds or learn how long you can expect them to last, take a look at this archived post.

No. 4 – How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

If you purchased your pumpkin from a supermarket, it’s unlikely you’ll know its provenance so why not try cooking the seeds instead of saving them. It’s very easy and they’re tasty too.

Ingredients

Pumpkin seeds
Cold water (about half a litre)
2 tbls salt (or less if you don’t want the seeds overly salty)
1 tblsp olive oil

Heat oven to 20oºC/Gas 6/400ºF

Clean the seeds as above then add them to a saucepan with the salt and water, bring to the boil then simmer for ten minutes or so to allow the seeds to soften.

Take off the heat, drain, pat the seeds dry with a clean tea towel then toss in the olive oil before placing on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for around ten to twenty minutes, until the seeds brown and are crispy.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

“Green Man” Pumpkin

No. 5 – How to Decorate a Pumpkin without Cutting it Up

In the U.S. pumpkin decorating is massive, check out Pinterest for thousands of ideas.

A couple of years ago I entered a bloggers pumpkin decorating competition with a natural, autumnal themed entry. My ‘Green Man’ eventually shared the table with all the chutney a group of community gardeners made to sell at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

I made the creation pictured by collecting seasonal leaves, flowers and cones and sticking them to the pumpkin skin using a glue gun. Drawing or dressmaking pins would work well too if you’re try to avoid the chemical addition.

Don’t Try This At Home

I hope you’ve enjoyed those few ideas for using your pumpkin. Next year as Halloween approaches, if you don’t already do so please consider cooking your pumpkin instead of throwing away all the seeds and flesh. Whatever you do, don’t try this at home. Especially if you’re home alone…


photo credit: clarkmaxwell Halloween deconstructed (aka: pumpkin autopsy) via photopin (license)

Food & Drink

The Prince of Squash – Soup Recipe

October 31, 2012
Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Winter squash harvest

This week we carved five squash/pumpkins to celebrate Hallowe’en – one of which was one of my precious Crown Prince squash varieties.

Grown this year from seed, I’ve watched three grow and develop and there’s a part of me that didn’t want to slice and bake the tasty fruit. Although the skin is a grey/blue, the flesh inside is a rich orange in colour and once roasted is one of the tastiest squash we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. It develops a deliciously sweet chestnut flavour and when made into a soup is simply divine. As we were scooping out the flesh the scent of melons filled the kitchen, reminding us of the Crown Princes’ relationship with the rest the Cucurbita family.

Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Crown Prince Squash

If you’ve yet to grow a Crown Prince, I heartily recommend you try it next year as they’re easy to grow (instructions here) and are great for winter storage. If you haven’t grown them, try sourcing them in a farmers market – I bought my first one last year from a local organic farm gate.

This is my third squash or pumpkin soup recipe on the blog and the tastiest yet. The reason I keep posting them isn’t for their amazing flavour – pumpkin can be quite bland on its own, more that I’m hoping it’ll encourage you to use the flesh!

In my previous life before children, I’d scoop out the seeds and flesh before carving pumpkins and composting them. That was it. I was too scared to try cooking them and didn’t have a clue what to do with the flesh. In fact I have a vague recollection of thinking what a waste of food, there must be something I could make with it, but it wasn’t until I became a budget conscious mum and starting cooking more than mushroom curries that I found out what to do with it.

Given that there’s only so much squash soup a family can make, this year we’ll also be making pumpkin muffins based on the courgette cake recipe and will be roasting some of the seeds. I spotted this recipe for cocoa roasted pumpkin seeds on twitter from the Food to Glow blog and will be giving it a go.

Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Ingredients

Diced flesh from a Crown Prince squash
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 ltrs vegetable stock
25g butter
Lots of finely grated nutmeg to taste
freshly ground salt & pepper
150 ml milk

Carefully cut the top from the squash and scoop out the seeds and fibrous contents. You can’t save and plant the seeds from a squash such as Crown Prince as it’s an F1 variety (meaning that whatever you grow wont be like its parent). Rinse and place the seeds to one side so that you can make the cocoa roasted snack when the oven’s hot. Using a spoon, scrape out as much flesh from the squash as you can without damaging the outer shell. Place the empty shell to one side ready for carving. Spread out the pumpkin flesh on a roasting tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 175ºC for about an hour.

Once roasted, melt the butter and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring.  Add the potato, roasted squash and vegetable stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender.  Cool a little, then purée in a liquidiser.  Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk, grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the soup into the empty shell for serving if you’re not planning on carving it.

Do you have any favourite squash recipes or links you’d like to share?

Crown Prince Squash

Crown Prince Squash