By Carmelene Melanie Siani

 

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

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

Then, I threw them away. I always felt bad about throwing them away. 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 pesticides or 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 leftover pumpkins the second night for dinner while at the same time, I would cavalierly throw away 5-10 pounds of food.

Good food actually. Food that can be used in pies and breads or one of my favorites; curried pumpkin soup.

“But pumpkins are so hard to handle?”  The young woman I was talking with was saying, 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 a way to cook and handle a pumpkin that made it easy to use in my various pumpkin recipes or, for freezing to use later.

I slow roast my pumpkins in the oven whole, exactly the way they are—cut into jack-o-lanterns 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 for half price after the holidays are over, 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. So were the days of trying to scrape seeds and strings off of the flesh before I cooked it.

In fact, all of the struggle was gone.  Nothing was left but a very easy way to enjoy fresh pumpkin.

Here’s how I roast it and use pumpkin in my favorite Crock Pot Curried Pumpkin Soup.

How to prepare a Slow Roast Pumpkin

Put whole pumpkin on a large cookie sheet in 225 degree oven and cook overnight. (No need to provide “air holes.” or to wrap it. Just put it in the oven whole).
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).
Turn the oven off and let the pumpkin cool on the cookie sheet right in the oven.
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. Using your hands, pick up the roasted pumpkin and put it whole, right down into the sink.
With a large knife, cut a slice out of the whole pumpkin using the natural lines on the skin itself.
The first cut will release the pumpkin juice into the sink.
Remove the cut slice from the pumpkin and scrape the seeds and strings off of the slice directly into the sink.
Hold the slice over the crock pot you are using to make the soup and scrape the flesh off of it directly into the crock pot. (Or, scrape it into containers to refrigerate or freeze for later use)

My Method for Making My Favorite (Keto Style) 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 blenderize or whip with hand held blender until of 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.

Note:  The video is a public You Tube video of me cutting the pumpkin in the sink and showing how to do it.

 

 

Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

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