Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

I just love this time of year! The mornings are brisk, the days are cool and those beautiful fall leaves are right around the corner!

Ah…Fall! My second favorite season, Winter being my favorite. Winter, Fall, Spring and then Summer. That’s my list! ;o)

My sister commented the other day that it has become Pumpkin Central around here at Dianne’s Dishes the past few days and Alexis and I have certainly been rocking the pumpkin recipes! I mentioned before that it is amazing how many things you can make with three small sugar pumpkins! But when they are local, fresh and oh so lovely, why not utilize them?

For years I’ve read about Pumpkin Soup, but I had never tried it because it sounded odd to me. I’m not sure why that is given I love Butternut Squash Soup and the two are very similar, but sometimes you just get an idea about food in your head and it takes actually trying something to knock out a preconceived notion.

I decided to whip up a batch of soup and much to my surprise I loved it! Alexis did too. It’s warm, healthy and hearty. Who can ask for a better combination?

What You’ll Need:
4 cups of raw pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (Note: I like to cut the sugar pumpkins into slices as you would a cantaloupe. From there you can scoop out the seeds on one side and use a potato peeler to peel the skin off the other side. Then it’s simple to cut the slice into chunks once it is scooped and peeled.)
1 large sweet potato or yam, chopped into chunks (Note: You don’t have to remove the skin from the sweet potatoes. They have a lot of vitamins and such you don’t want to get rid of, especially in this soup where it’s all blended in the end anyway.)
2 large carrots, cut into chunks (Note: Again there’s no need to peel them.)
1 small onion, skins removed and cut into chunks
3 or 4 thyme branches (Note: If you want you can strip the leaves off the branches, but you don’t have to. As the thyme cooks the leaves will fall away from the stem and then you can remove the stems before you blend.)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Water or vegetable broth

Dump all of your ingredients into a large stockpot. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt (about a teaspoon or so) and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the ingredients with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and cook until ingredients are all completely cooked through and tender.

Remove veggies from cooking water and reserve water. Remove thyme branches and discard. Process veggies in a food processor or blender until smooth adding some of the cooking water to help smooth out the mix. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor or blender. Return pureed mixture to your empty stock put and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over medium to ensure it is warm through. Serve immediately.

Notes: You could add any root vegetable that you like to the mix. Parsnips would be good especially. It’s a very simple mixture, but it’s delicious none the less. You could also make this with a couple of cans of canned pumpkin by adding it during the processing stage or you could freeze pumpkin to use later.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

One of the best things about getting pumpkins is being able to make roasted pumpkin seeds! There are so many ways to roast them…With herbs…With honey…Or even just with a little sea salt! No matter how you roast them you’ve got a fun and easy snack. These are one of Alexis’ favorite go to snacks…Mine too! 😉

What You’ll Need:
Pumpkin seeds, rinsed and cleaned
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rinse the pumpkin seeds in water and drain. Make sure the seeds are cleaned and the pumpkin “string” are gone. Spread the seeds onto a large cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 15-20 minutes until seeds are browned. Let cool and store in an air tight container.

Notes: Roasted pumpkin seeds are good as a yogurt or ice cream topping. They are also good in granola. Some people use oil to roast them, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I think they taste better without the oil.

Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Last weekend Alexis saw some local sugar pumpkins and wanted to get some. She’s all about pumpkins. Loves them! We decided one of the things we could do was to make some Pumpkin Muffins and I decided it would be fun to add a little twist, a “surprise” if you will. What’s better than a surprise? Most people like surprises. The “surprise” in these muffins is a little bite of cheesecake in the middle of each one! I decided this would make a good treat for Jamison to take to work since Fall is on our doorstep. I’m really enjoying making up new recipes and testing them out on Jamison’s coworkers! Hopefully they are enjoying it too. 🙂

What You’ll Need for the Pumpkin Batter:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: I had intended to use White Whole Wheat flour, but I realized I was out. You could easily substitute it for all of or part of the white flour.)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of mashed pumpkin
1 stick of butter, melted (Note: You could use unsweetened apple sauce instead of the butter. Again this was my intention, but I realized I was out of apple sauce.)
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1 cup of sour cream
3/4 cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of vanilla

What You’ll Need for the “Surprise”:
1 package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/8 cup of unbleached all purpose, flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix dry ingredients (flour through sea salt) in a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix remaining ingredients (pumpkin through vanilla) and stir until incorporated. Mix dry mixture with wet mixture and stir until completely mix. Set aside.

Cream together cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Set aside.

Spray two muffin pans with non stick spray. Fill each cup 1/4 of the way full with pumpkin batter and then add a dollop of the “Surprise” mixture (roughly 1 tablespoon or less) into the middle of each cup. Top with more pumpkin batter to cover the “surprise”.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins stick done.

Makes about 24 muffins

Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Notes: You could add a cup of nuts and/or raisins to the pumpkin batter for even more yummy goodness. We used fresh pumpkin that we roasted in the oven and mashed ourselves. This process gave lovely little bits of pumpkin throughout the muffins. You could easily used canned pumpkin instead.