Maggie brought home two heirloom Musque de Provence pumpkins last week. They were beautiful -- a burnished golden color, looking almost as if they were carved out of wood. They sat on the kitchen counter for several days and I just assumed I'd leave them there as decoration for weeks, or until they rotted.
You see, I'm afraid of pumpkins – not the jack-o-lantern kind that are carved to be scary – but regular old pumpkins. Perhaps afraid is the wrong word; maybe intimidated is more like it.
When I make a pumpkin pie, I reach for a can of Libby's® pumpkin pie filling. I've cooked acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, but the idea of cooking a pumpkin seemed so much harder, so much scarier.
I promised a neighbor who is going through some hard times that I'd bring over a pot of soup for an easy dinner for them. So, I was thinking all afternoon about what kind of soup I'd make. I didn't really want to go to the grocery for ingredients, so I needed to make a soup from the fixings in my refrigerator or pantry -- or from those sitting out right in front of me on the counter. I glared at those beautiful pumpkins and with one stab of my kitchen knife, I claimed one of them as the main ingredient in my soup pot.
The insides were a deep orange color and I quickly removed the seeds and strings. I cut off a large hunk and tried to peel it with my vegetable peeler. It was hard. The piece kept slipping out of hand and flying into the sink. I told myself that I could figure this out. So I hauled out a large oven pan, filled it with a 1/2 inch of water and placed the two halves (plus the one hunk) face down in the water and slipped the whole thing into a hot oven.
Once roasted, it was a cinch to scoop out the flesh. I added it to some onions that I had sauteed in the soup pot, along with some garlic and fresh ginger. In went a few cups of vegetable stock and then I brought the whole shebang to a low boil. In the end, I added some freshly ground nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon. I pureed the soup so that it was creamy smooth and then served it with a dollop of greek yogurt and some toasted pumpkin seeds.
The soup was delicious. The pumpkin is now history – my fears reduced to a silky smooth bowl of comfort and joy.