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November 26, 2016

A Super Simple way to Prepare & Cook Fresh Pumpkin. {Bonus Recipe & Video}

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“…When I was 18. All I could afford was pumpkin soup and a glass of champagne, but it was worth it.” ~ Karen Gillan

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You know all the pumpkin patches you see from Halloween to Thanksgiving? I used to buy three or four pumpkins, bring them home and make jack-o-lanterns out of them.

Then, I threw them away.

I’ve always felt bad about that—I mean, pumpkin is food. Actually, it’s more than food.

When we toss a pumpkin, we are wasting all the resources used to grow it—the irrigation water, any fertilizers that treated the soil and all the energy used to plant, harvest, transport and then store it. When a pumpkin is sent to the landfill, it rots, emitting methane, an alarmingly potent greenhouse gas.

I had always been so careful about using leftovers the second night for dinner, but would still cavalierly throw away five pounds of good food without even thinking about it.

Pumpkin is so versatile—it can be used in pies, breads, or one of my favorites, curried pumpkin soup.

“But it’s so hard to handle!” A young woman claimed, adding that she just didn’t have a pot big enough in which to cook or steam a pumpkin.

“And it’s so hard to cut up into pieces when it’s raw.”

She was right. It is hard to handle, and it is hard to cut up into pieces. But about 20 years ago, I figured out an easy way to cook and handle a pumpkin that made it easy to use in various recipes and freeze for later.

I slow-roast it in the oven, whole—exactly the way it is—cut into jack-o-lantern or not.

This pumpkin hack has allowed me to literally pick up broken pieces of pumpkin in the streets after Halloween and cook it for food—or alternatively, to buy a pumpkin whole in the grocery store after the holidays are over for half price, prepare it and freeze it for later use.

The days of struggling with a huge pumpkin that I could hardly get a knife into so that I could cut it to fit in a pot were over, as were the days of trying to scrape seeds and strings off of the flesh before I cooked it.

All of the struggle was gone. Nothing was left but a super easy way to enjoy fresh pumpkin. Here’s how I roast it and use it in my favorite Crock Pot Curried Pumpkin Soup.

How to Prepare a Slow-Roast Pumpkin.

1. Put whole pumpkin on a large cookie sheet in a 225 degree oven and cook overnight. (No need to make “air holes”—just put it in the oven whole).

2. The pumpkin is cooked when it has shrunken in on itself, and you can smell it. (Don’t poke it with a knife to see if it’s tender, all the juices will escape, and there may be more than the cookie sheet can hold).

3. Turn the oven off and let the pumpkin cool on the cookie sheet right in the oven.

4. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the cookie sheet with the pumpkin on it and put it on the counter next to the sink. Pick up the roasted pumpkin and put it down into the sink.

5. With a large knife, cut a slice out of the whole pumpkin using the natural lines on the skin.

6. The first cut will release the pumpkin juice into the sink.

7. Remove the cut slice from the pumpkin and scrape the seeds and strings directly into the sink.

8. Hold the slice over the crock pot and scrape the flesh off directly into the crock pot. (Or scrape it into containers to refrigerate or freeze for later use.)

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How to make Crock Pot Curried Pumpkin Soup.

Fill crock pot about 3/4 full with fresh pumpkin meat and add:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • About 1 cup of heavy cream (I use whipping cream)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • Curry powder, salt and hot chili powder to taste.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • When the pumpkin reaches a soft and mushy state, it is done. Let it cool again and blend it to desired consistency (I like it creamy smooth so I use my Bullet).

To serve, sprinkle with small amount of toasted coconut and finely chopped fresh cilantro.

Finally, this Keto-style soup can easily be made vegan-friendly by using only coconut milk and eliminating the butter and cream. When I make it vegan-friendly, I also add a few raisins to the garnish when I serve it.

 

 

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Author: Carmelene Siani

Images: Unsplash; screenshots from  author’s video 

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

 

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