Halloween is here! Time for watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Disney’s animated film from 1949, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and it’s time to make a delicious something or two using fresh roasted pumpkin. I went on the search, and landed squarely on two incredibly satisfying and most delicious recipes: Roast Pumpkin Soup with Pancetta and Parmesan from Australian Gourmet Traveller, and Classic Pumpkin Pie from The Kitchn. I’m feeling something of a pumpkin expert now. (As I wrote that last sentence, I was channeling Bridget Jones. I feel it necessary to tell you that.)
There is something satisfying about picking out a pumpkin at the grocery store, knowing that it will be eaten and not just end up a jack-o'-lantern. MY pumpkin has a higher purpose. It shall NOT end up a moldy mess in a dumpster. MY pumpkin shall be infused with fresh thyme leaves and served in a beautiful tureen with freshly grated parmesan, for sophisticated palates. Only the best for MY pumpkin.
Today, I'm going to show you how to make the soup. Tomorrow, the pumpkin pie!
Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Pancetta and Parmesan
3 sugar pumpkins, unpeeled, quartered, seeds removed
1/3 cup olive oil
3 T butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
5 oz. mild pancetta, finely chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1 T fresh thyme leaves
3 oz. finely grated parmesan
1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar
This recipe is inspired by the one on Australian Gourmet Traveller. I've tweaked it a little to suit my tastes. You may feel like doing the same.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Cut the pumpkins into quarters, and remove the seeds. I used my chef knife, but that was rather extravagant. I could have used my paring knife, or just a good spoon. I did my best to get rid of all the stringy parts, but you don't have go overboard. It's edible, afterall.
Rinse the seeds using a colander and let them air dry in large tray. I used my Pyrex casserole dish, and it was superb.
You'll definitely want to roast these later.
Place the pumpkin quarters skin-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with sea salt.
Roast for about an hour, until tender. The edges should be a little browned.
Let it cool before you remove the skins. I went for a walk on the beach at this point, and it was glorious. The tide was so low, I could walk under the Santa Monica Pier quite far out. The ground rumbled with the force of the roller coaster, and the creak of the boards was creepy. Seagulls were pecking dinner from the barnacles on the pilings. It's a different world under the pier. It added to the whole Halloween-y vibe for me.
After I was sufficiently aired out, I was ready to really start cooking.
The first thing I did was remove the skin from the pumpkins, and discarded the skins. Then, I pureed the pumpkin in a food processor and set it aside.
The recipe I was using called for sauteeing the onion and garlic, and then later blending everything together. I knew I would want to eat this stuff when it was ready, and I was afraid my blender would not have been able to handle hot soup—so, I decided to puree the onion and garlic together first in my food processor. Total mistake. It turned green when I sauteed it! After a little research, I discovered that doing it this way can release enzymes that turn it green. I recommend NOT pureeing the onion and garlic together, and just go ahead and use chopped onion and garlic.
In a large pot, drizzle in the remaining olive oil.
Add the butter.
Slide the onions and garlic into the pot, and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon.
I have a favorite wooden spoon I like to use. Before I got my own place, my roommate at my former apartment used to put my wooden spoon in the dishwasher and it would drive me crazy! Wooden spoons should be hand washed and air dried. There, I feel better.
Saute until golden, about 6-8 minutes.
The recipe said to then add the pancetta and saute until crisp. I did this but it never really got crisp. I recommend sauteeing the pancetta in a separate frying pan and then adding it into the mix.
Add the pureed pumpkin, chicken stock, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Stir in the parmesan and vinegar. I used more parmesan that the recipe called for because I LOVE it!
Now, for some reason, I neglected to take any photos of the pumpkin soup in the pot! Geesh. Amateur. (Now, I'm channeling Walter from The Big Lebowski.)
Also, I'd like to add that I picked up a gorgeous La Brea Bakery baguette that I was going to shoot in the final setup, and then completely forgot about it. Yep.
But, I think the final shot turned out pretty well anyway. What do you think? I ended up crisping up some extra pancetta to sprinkle over the top, along with some chopped up pumpkin seeds that I picked up at the market, and of course fresh thyme leaves and parmesan!