It’s been a tough year at Barefoot Farm for all things in the squash family. But things are starting to look up. Who knew gardening could be this much fun?
Apparently, when I added some compost in the herb garden this summer, I included a pumpkin seed. I discovered this one tiny pumpkin, hiding in the herbs. It’s small and, as I have no way of knowing what the variety is or whether it’s the result of random fertilization, I don’t know what to expect as far as edibility goes. It looks good and I’m assuming the best so now I need to decide what to do with it.
An attack of squash bugs nearly wiped out all of the heirloom cucurbits I started from seed many months ago. My husband gave it his best shot, getting out first thing each morning, hand-picking what he could see, then giving each plant a bath with soapy water several times each week. We finally gave up and let nature take its course.
The squash field is a bit removed from the rest of the garden and it has been ignored for several weeks. Imagine my surprise when Phoebe ran up to me while I was feeding the pigs to tell me the squash field looked amazing! Sure enough, the bugs have disappeared and left behind a fair number of squash that have a decent chance as long as I keep a close eye on the weather and protect them from frost.
Options for squash, especially pumpkins, are so varied. Pumpkin can be turned into bread or muffins, pie or soup. I could make a pudding or even a spiced pumpkin chai. It’s a pretty tiny pumpkin so I think pie is out. Right now, as the day is a bit damp and chilly, I’m leaning towards soup.
If you have never had pumpkin soup, this is the time of year to give it a try. It’s pretty easy and a good way to help kids learn to love all bright orange squashes. Packed with fiber and vitamin A, pumpkin is a healthy way to indulge. (And yes, although I always talk about healthy eating, forgive me for suggesting that you need to use half-and-half in this recipe at the very least and real cream is even better. All things in moderation!)
Kathy’s Pumpkin Soup
To make this, you need about two pounds of peeled, seeded and cubed pumpkin. This is medium small squash. The best way to do this is to cook the whole pumpkin in a covered pot of simmering water. The skin will come right off when it cools and the seeds can be scooped out of the cavity.
Sauté a medium onion in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Don’t let them get brown. Add about two pounds of peeled, cubed and seeded pumpkin. Add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock to the squash along with the spices you prefer. I like some nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Marjoram is nice too. Now you need to blend this really well. An immersion blender works or you can do it in a blender. I don’t mind working it through a fine sieve and finishing the blending with a whisk either. When the soup is smooth add a cup of half and half. If you are trying to watch your fat intake, substitute skimmed evaporated milk. Adjust the texture with added cream or stock or simmer to reduce if soup isn’t thick enough.
If you don’t have pumpkin you can use any orange squash for similar results. Try this with butternut, for instance, acorn, Golden Nugget, or Hubbard squashes. And if you can find a Fairytale pumpkin, you’ll be in for a tasty treat!