This blog has just turned two years old. It started as a birthday gift to me from e, with a first post to remind that there was a jar of spices in my pantry that she’d brought back from Morocco over the summer. My own first post, with the photography nowhere near under control and trepidations about being able to maneuver the site, was a batch of pumpkin bread for a crowd. Consumed at a team tailgate picnic under crisp blue skies and bright fall foliage, that pumpkin bread remains a favorite memory. At that time, I promised another version and have yet to deliver. But in the meanwhile, if I post as many entries as are typical for me, I will have reached 365 by the end of November! That’s one nearly every other day. Good heavens. And I think I’m being selective about what I choose to show and say. However, in the past two years, I’ve ramped up talking about preserving local organically raised food (which I’ve done for years but not vocally) and have written about lots of experiments, more of which are forthcoming this month.
November’s the month when we glean the fields and garden for whatever we might rescue before the winter sets in. There are some vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash (except for this year) – from our CSA that I safely store in our cold-ish basement through most of the winter. Others such as carrots, cabbage and a variety of roots are stored in the refrigerator. There’s one remarkable long-lasting exception: the great big orange or beige cheese pumpkin. These beauties ornament our dining room sideboard or front hall console table for months. I’ve been known to have perfect specimens as late as March.
This year, when I wasn’t looking, one of my prize organically grown cheese pumpkins was drilled and lit for Halloween. Drilled because there’s no way a knife could easily penetrate its nearly three-inch thick walls. Yikes. As soon as the trick-or-treaters were out of sight, I ran outside rescued my pumpkin from the freezing cold temperatures. The next day, I roasted it in chunks, drizzled with olive oil and salt and placed in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees, turning once. After skinning the roasted chunks, I drained the pumpkin flesh, saving the extra liquid and storing it in two batches: one fully drained (which will be good for baked goods) and the other with the liquid added back (which will work for soups and risotto). Despite its early demise, this pumpkin creates a good opportunity to try out some Thanksgiving recipes.
So, here’s a pumpkin soup with Moroccan spices for e. Wish you were here to enjoy it, but don’t worry, there’s a container of it in the freezer for the next time I see you. (I added a little rice to the pot to make a creamy soup without the need to add milk or cream.)
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
3 c roasted pumpkin flesh
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 tbsp raw basmati or white rice
Spices of your choice: (cardamom, star anise, cinnamon allspice for a Moroccan taste; curry spices for an Indian version; cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chili peppers for a Middle Eastern take; cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger for an American Thanksgiving flavor; and so on)
Water, vegetable broth or chicken stock
Optional: a tsp or so of turbinado sugar (in case pumpkin is bitter)
Optional: a few tbsp coconut milk or heavy cream
Garnish: fresh herbs like cilantro or raw or toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Remove the skin from roasted pumpkin chunks and reserve the liquid for the soup. Slowly cook the onion in oil until translucent. Add the carrots and cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the spices. If using ground spices, simply mix them. If using whole spices, either toast and grind them into a powder (as with cumin and coriander) or lightly crush them and place them in a little muslin bag (as with Moroccan spices, but remember to remove the cardamom seeds from the pods). Add ground spices to the onion mixture and stir to combine before adding the pumpkin. If using whole spices in a bag, add them when the liquid goes into the pot.
Add the pumpkin and liquid (water, vegetable broth or chicken stock) just to cover, and a little salt. (You will probably need to add more liquid later.)
Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 50 minutes, adding more liquid as needed. Remove the spice bag, if using. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender or a food processor. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt or sugar as needed. If you’d like, add a little coconut milk or cow’s milk or cream to smooth the soup.
Garnish as you please.