Cinderella Pumpkin Soup Baked in the Pumpkin

20 10 2009
Pumpkin Soup Double Feature: Left - Original Style, Right - Complete Pumpkin Style

Pumpkin Soup Double Feature: Left - Original Style, Right - Complete Pumpkin Style

 Short Version: We made pumpkin soup!

Longer Version: We made pumpkin soup in a pumpkin!

They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words so I am going to try something different with his post by making it photocentric. By the end of this post you will have gotten 22,000 worth of words in only a few short feet of web page and as a bonus I’ll throw the words in between the photos for free (and I’m even going to use sections if you order now!)

Introduction

Pumpkin soup was NOT in our plans. It wasn’t even on our radar when we arrived at the farmers market on Sunday.  In fact even after we made our customary first round it wasn’t on our mind.  Even after the first cookbook consultation it wasn’t on our mind. Not even a fleck on our minds even. The second cookbook consultation though, those glossy full page photos of pumpkins made me stop, for a brief second but long enough for my eyes and mind to linger.  Pumpkin soup IN a pumpkin it said.  Its October and there were pumpkins at the market.  All kinds but we were after a Cinderella pumpkin as Ms. Deborah Madison had instructed us to find.  And we found it.  I was buying some arugula when the sous chef yelled from outside the other end of the stall: “Chef! I think I found the pumpkin we need. Its behind that guy [stand worker] so you can’t see it!” 5 minutes later and one bewildered worker later we had paid our $6.50 for our beautiful 13 lb Cinderella pumpkin.  It was so beautiful that as the sous chef carried it for the rest of our market time numerous people complimented her on her gorgeous pumpkin! You would have thought she had a baby or an adorable puppy the way folks loved her pumpkin from afar.

Prepping the Pumpkin to Go Into the Oven

Prepping The Pumpkin

Prepping The Pumpkin

The first major step was prepping the pumpking and getting it ready to go in the oven.  The main two steps as illustrated in the beautiful montage above (made in Irfanview – thanks sous chef for the tip!) was gutting the pumpkin and then making the pre-soup to fill it with.  The cinderella pumpkin is much squatter than I am used to so gutting it was a bit on the acrobatic end of pumpkin gutting. I started using a flat ice cream scope to pull the strings and the seeds out but it wasn’t nimble enough to reach the far corners of the squat pumpkin.  Eventually I moved to using a combination of my own hand and a soup spoon. I was able to scrape small sections, sweep the innards to the center, and then pull them out in a clump.  Scrape, Grab, Repeat. 

As for the pre-soup, the recipe casually mentioned (there weren’t really explicit directions, in fact it was much like my past blog posts)  that you would need about 2 quarts of milk for a 5 lb pumpkin. Strangely enough it turns out we only needed about 2.5 quarts of soy milk to fill a 13 lb pumpkin. Who knew?!  The soy milk was heated over the stove with a handful of sage leaves, some pepper, and salt.  Once it was the pre-soup was heated and ready to go it got poured into the pumpkin and capped with a combination of foil and pumpkin hat. The ~20 lb pumpkin (it was retaining water!) was ready for the oven.   

“Making” The Pumpkin Soup Proper

Making the Soup

Making the Soup

After 2 hours of roasting we pulled the pumpkin was soft to the touch and ready for its next duties: fall apart into soup! The recipe recommend just reaching into the pumpkin pit of boiling soy milk and gently ‘drawing’ the pumpkin into the milk to make soup.  I turned to the trust ice cream scoop and started to pull the pumpkin from the side. Well it turns out drawing the pumpkin doesn’t translate to making ‘pumpkin icebergs’ with an ice cream scoop like I was doing. I had huge chunks 1″ deep and 3″-4″ square floating around in the soy milk. It wasn’t really soup yet and the hot soy milk presented an entirely new problem:  reduced visibility with scalding hot conditions.  I was concerned about puncturing the pumpkin skin and spilling all my pre-soup into the roasting pan.  Eventually I had to turn to the recipe’s backup plan to create soup from this mess I was creating: blending.  Not only did it reduce the huge icebergs into pumpkin icee but it also allowed me to drain the pumpkin so I could see/feel how much of the pumpkin I was scooping out.  That little bit of security went a long way and allowed me to be a bit more aggressive with my pumpkin scraping.  In contrast to the icebergs, the pumpkin I was scraping out towards the end was very, very moist and probably would have mixed right into the soup so I only blended out the big chunks. And left much of the rest to be mixed in by hand.

 Once it was all blended and ready to go I poured it back into the pumpkin to serve for dinner but low and behold I had more soup than I did space in the pumpkin! I ended up with about 3-4 bowls of soup left in the holding pot.  I suspect the top of the pumpkin sagged, reducing the volume of the cavity in the pumpkin.   The last step for soup prep was putting in 2 handfuls of grated Gruyere cheese into the pumpkin hatch and into the lowly overflow pot.  With a ladle and gravity the cheese just melted and mixed into the soup.

Serving the Soup

Serving

Serving

 
This part is mostly pictures! I used a ladle and put into bowls with a bit of Gruyere on the top and we sliced up sourdough rye from a local bread place at the market to serve it with.  But perhaps this is the place to talk about how it tasted finally?  Shall we? Ok!

Sweet.  Actually the soup was considerable sweet and not as “pumpkin-y” as I expected it to be.   I believe the cinderella pumpkin is a fairly sweet pumpkin but it seemed there was more sugar than the pumpkin could have provided. Turns out I was right: we had used sweetened soy milk.  Not a big deal but on first serving it was noticable to me.  Others at the table didn’t notice it all though.  Oh well. As for the pumpkin taste it certainly tasted like pumpkin just not like “liquid pumpkin” as I expected it to.

Even with these two “faults” the soup was hearty, warm, and delicious! The sourdough rye was a perfect pairing for the soup and all 4 folks eating it just kept eating and eating it.  Delicious!

Cleanup and Hidden Treasure

Clean Up and Treasures

Clean Up and Treasures

You know what I never considered before? How to empty soup from the inside of a pumpkin after the ladle is no longer effective.  The answer? Cut a drainage hole in the side of the pumpkin! After I drained the pumpkin completely of liquid (and ironically after the sous chef had already filled 3 pint mason jars and 1 quart juice bottle with soup) I cut open the pumpkin to find almost an 1″ of pumpkin flesh still lining our shell! So with the precision of a sushi chef and the clumsiness of me cutting cantaloupe out of the rind I removed all the edible flesh from the skin.  I ended up with a big bowl and small Tupperware FULL of pumpkin. The small Tupperware traveled with our dinner guests but the rest got blended back into the soup; re-soiling the blender that had already been cleaned.  In the end the second round of soup was a heck of a lot more pumpkin-y AND much, much less sweet.  And not surprisingly we ended up with another 1.25 quarts of left over soup!!!!

And last but not least what “I learned from making pumpkin soup in a pumpkin”:

  • Check for sweetened soy milk when making soup and don’t use it
  • The more you scoop out the better the soup will be but the more likely it will be to fall in on itself; the quest for perfect soup requires these two to be balanced. Perfectly.
  • The more pictures you take, the less you want to post due to the time to sort them. Consider this carefully in  how fast you want to post. (this has taken 3 days to create)
  • pumpkin soup is a lot like squash soup. No surprise!
  • Sweet pumpkin soup goes well with sourdough rye bread
  • Buy the 13 lb pumpkin at the end of the farmers market trip. Not the beginning.
  • A good pumpkin can bring more compliments than a cute child or dog; just make sure to carry it outside a bag!
  • 13 lbs of pumpkin makes a lot of friggin’ soup
  • Emptying the pumpking of the scaling liquid helps you to gauge how far you can push scooping the flesh out without puncturing the shell; even if the texture of the soup is right and no blending is needed.
  • Flat ice cream scoops are great pumpkin/squash cutting tools
  • When in doubt a measuring cup is a great size to scrape the inside of a pumpkin (1/3 cup I believe)
  • Taking pictures before you’re guests arrive is brilliant, waiting to figure out that your soup can still be better until after all the dishes have been done and all the photo opportunities go away is not as brilliant.

Footnote: This actually took place on Oct 18th but since links were already made I don’t want to change it.

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