from the pumpkin patch to the soup bowl

The leaves are turning golden and dropping to the ground. Pumpkins and mums line the front steps of homes in our neighborhood. We picked up some pumpkins and flowers this weekend along with a bale of hay that sits by the front door to usher in the fall season.

Some of the mums you buy at stands in the fall are perennials. They most likely will not be labeled as perennials so do your own test. When the first hard frost signals the end of the growing cycle for the mums, place them in the garage or a shed for the winter. If you see new growth in the spring you have a perennial. If you don’t, put it in the compost.

When you purchase pumpkins, decorate with some, and bring some others into the kitchen. Pumpkin pies aren’t the only reason to cut open those orange squash and get cooking. Try your hand at making a batch of pumpkin soup.

You can make this soup in about 1 hour so it could be the perfect vegetable serving on the dinner table for a meal during the week. With a few ingredients, you can make a creamy and satisfying soup that’s rich in flavor and boosts your beta carotene intake. This soup has a squash flavor, with hints of fresh thyme, and a bit of light cream.

You can feel good about cooking with pumpkins as they are packed with nutritious vitamins. If you want to do a vegetarian version of pumpkin soup, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

When selecting pumpkins for cooking, go for the smaller pumpkins called sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins. Don’t worry about them tasting sweet like pumpkin pie. Pumpkins are actually a very neutral flavor. It’s the ingredients you add that can take it in the direction of sweet or savory.

You think the vibrant orange color of the fall’s crop of pumpkins looks good on the front steps? Make this soup and see how inviting it is in a bowl on your table tonight.

For how to make your own pumpkin puree and other ideas check out my latest post over at Parade Food. http://www.parade.com/172459/aliceknisleymatthias-2/make-your-own-pumpkin-puree/

Find the recipe for pumpkin soup below.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

1 sugar pumpkin

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 onion diced

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 1/2 cups of stock (this will vary according to the thickness of the soup)

6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

kosher salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup light cream

Remove top of pumpkin and stem. Turn the pumpkin over and slice in half with a good knife. Slice the halves so you have quarters and remove seeds.

Place pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet skin-side-up or down and roast in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. A knife should easily pierce the skin of the pumpkin after cooking time. Allow to cool.

When pieces are cooled, remove flesh from skins.

Sweat onions and butter in olive oil in a pot. After 1 minute, add the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds.

Place pumpkin, onions, and garlic in a food process and puree until smooth.

Transfer back to cooking pot and add all ingredients except the light cream. Simmer on a low flame for 15 minutes. Stir in light cream.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, or sour cream. Sprinkle soup bowls with some more thyme leaves.

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