Thursday, November 18

Pumpkin Soup in Its Own Bowl - Redoux - Solar Cooked

It's almost Thanksgiving and pumpkin soup is always great as a side dish -- especially when served in its own bowl! Up to my elbows with holiday crafting, I decided to repost this old blog that so many new followers haven't seen, as yet. It's a great presentation and very festive. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Soup In Its Shell Recipe in the Solar Oven

Fall weather means football, hockey, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and -- Pumpkin Soup in Its Shell.  With a God-given container, why not use it to serve your family as well as decorate your dinner table?  Solar cooking fills the bill with my Pumpkin Soup in its Shell Recipe.  Using your solar oven for slow cooking will guarantee a good solid pumpkin soup bowl and a way to keep it nice and hot until serving time. I like to use the mini-pumpkins so each diner has their own bowl.

Because of its bowl-like shape, many mini-pumpkins can hold up to four cups of liquid. That's a lot of pumpkin soup for anyone! Fill them to just a tad above the widest part of the pumpkin waist and let your guests decide if they want more. For this recipe, I used fairly large mini-pumpkins -- at least 10 inches round -- but there are plenty of smaller ones available that would be just perfect for an 8-ounce serving.  And, remember, anything you can do in a conventional oven, you can do with a solar oven.

Pumpkin Soup In Its Shell is Slow Cooking Scrumptuous
Slow cooking is really taking hold and you can now find slow cookers with any number of special features to ease the burden of high utility bills when using conventional ovens and range tops. Using low heat saves energy and preserves nutrients and the rich color of your foods. Solar ovens fill the bill.  They have no hot spots and no utility costs. And, foods cooked in the solar oven are simply delicious --  no two ways about it.

Holiday Recipe for Pumpkin Soup In Its Shell
NOTE: I'm using two mini-pumpkins for this recipe. For four mini-pumpkins or one large pumpkin (NOT the one that won the State Fair Blue Ribbon!), double the ingredients. Bottom line, you want three times more pumpkin pulp in your soup than any other vegetable. Pumpkins will take at least 3 hours (if small) and should be started early in the day (around 10:00 am) if possible, or done the day before if you plan on using your solar oven for cooking your turkey.

So, let's get started with pumpkin preparation:
          2 small baking pumpkins
          2 Tablespoon water
Preheat solar oven to 225 F.  Wash and dry outside of pumpkins. To make a pumpkin 'lid,' cut in and around the pumpkin top between a 50-degree or 65-degree angle about an inch inside of the top outer edge. To make it easier to replace the top, use a magic marker to add vertical placement lines.

Gently remove membranes of pumpkin flesh from top without removing solid pulp, if possible. Remove seeds and membranes from pumpkin cavity, set aside.  (Salted seed recipe follows.)  As you can see, these two little pumpkins had plenty of seeds. I was really surprised.

Vertically score pumpkin pulp on inside every inch or so. Add one (1) Tablespoon water over bottom of each pumpkin to create steam to soften pulp. Replace pumpkin 'lid.  Have large oven bag on baking pan and place mini pumpkins inside; tie with cord or bendable tie that comes with bags.

Using the SolarWear(tm) Carrier Set (find it here), place in solar oven and cook for at least 3-1/2 to 4 hours. Test the doneness by gently pressing against sides of pumpkin.

When ready, sides will give just a little bit. Remove from oven.

All the preparation for the rest of the Pumpkin Soup Recipe can be done the day before or while the pumpkins are cooking in the solar oven. NOTES:  I like to add about a half-cup of peanuts to my pumpkin soup recipe, but this recipe is just as delicious without them. And, if you want to be sure that your pumpkin bowl will be sturdy, DON'T rub cooking oil over the outside of the pumpkin before putting it in the solar oven. It will COOK your pumpkin rind as well as the pulp! You don't want that to happen, so just wash it to remove any debris.

Soup Ingredients:
               1 medium onion, pared and chopped fine
               1 medium carrot, pared and chopped fine
               1 medium potato, pared and chopped fine
               2 medium applies, pared and chopped fine
               1/2 cup peanuts (optional), skinned and chopped
               1 quart chicken stock
               2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
               1/2 teaspoon each: basil, tarragon, parsley, chives
               1/4 teaspoon each: ground fennel seed, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg
               1/2 teaspoon sugar
               salt and pepper to taste
               cooked pumpkin pulp
Clean, pare, and chop all vegetables, peanuts, and apples. Heat 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil in large skillet over medium heat. sweat chopped vegetables until onions are translucent; add one-half chicken stock with chopped peanuts (optional) and apples and cook until liquid is absorbed. (If using raw peanuts, add to vegetables during sweating process.)

 Mix together all herbs and spices and add to balance of chicken stock. Add to skillet and mix thoroughly.   Scrape pumpkin pulp, leaving at least 1/8 inch of shell and flesh. Replace pumpkin tops on pumpkins until ready to use. If you don't, both top and bottom will not dry evenly and it will be hard to use lid for cover.
    Stir cooked pumpkin pulp into vegetable mixture and simmer for ten minutes.  Using 2 cups of mixture at a time, puree soup mixture and pour into separate bowl until all soup has been pureed.  Return pureed soup to skillet and heat through.

    Serve in pumpkin shells with crackers or crusted bread.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Seeds are Too Good to Throw Out
If you're like me, you love salted pumpkin seeds. Here's a fast recipe:  Wash all seeds and remove pumpkin membranes.  If you don't have time to cook right away, place in heavily salted water and set aside in the refrigerator until ready.

Preheat solar oven to 225 F.  Drain seeds. In separate bowl, mix together some salt and pepper with 1 teaspoon Olive Oil.  Don't be afraid to try other seasonings. Add seeds and stir until all seeds are evenly coated. Place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Let roast in solar oven until seeds become 'crackly' when taste-tested. You will have to stir occasionally to evenly roast seeds. If using a SolarWear(tm) (find it here) carrier setvery little heat is lost during the easy removal, stirring, and replacement of the roasting pan of seeds. 

And, of course, if you have any seeds left over from the feeding frenzy that usually occurs after hot salted pumpkin seeds are removed from the oven, they can be stored in a glass jar or metal canister.  Enjoy! 



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