[60] The Pumpkin Tureen

the cover of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

When I saw this recipe’s title, I was curious. When I read the recipe, I had to make it. It’s soup. BAKED IN A PUMPKIN!

Seriously, as I think regular readers of this blog will know, I have been itching to make this recipe since the moment I laid eyes on it. Admittedly, I haven’t gone on and on about it, but at least two posts (maybe even three) mention that I’m planning to make it “soon”. It took awhile, but I managed.

Part of why it took awhile was because I wanted to make it when we had at least one dinner guest. While Bill and I are totally worth a lot of effort “just because”, this seemed like a lot of food and a lot of effort. And I wasn’t sure how well it would reheat. So, I planned for it while Rosa was around, planned for it after we got back from New Mexico, I think planned for it one other night, then finally gave up and scheduled it for the two of us. Of course, then I had the opportunity to invite Rob over for dinner, so I did. And he accepted. And we all had soup. Out of a pumpkin!

h2. Ingredients

1 sincere 6 or 7 lb pumpkin (8″ in diameter; I went for the given diameter measurement when picking my pumpkin)
1 c finely minced onion

2 slices rye bread, diced

1/2 c (packed) grated Swiss cheese

2 tsp prepared horseradish

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 1/2 c milk

1 – 2 c vegetable broth, stock, bullion or water

1 tsp salt

Cayenne, nutmeg and black pepper to taste

Rye croutons for garnish (Optional)

h2. Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Carve off the top of the pumpkin, and scoop out the seeds and strings.

Place the onion, bread, cheese, horseradish and mustard inside the pumpkin and then mix together with your hands until everything is well combined and good friends with one another.

Add the milk and broth, as much as will fit, and the seasonings. Mix it all up thoroughly.

Line the pumpkin top with foil, use it to top the pumpkin, then place the whole pumpkin in an ungreased baking pan and bake for about two hours, until the pumpkin is tender. Test tenderness by removing the pumpkin lid, then poking a fork gently into the inside side of the pumpkin. If it slides in easily, it’s done.

Pull it out of the oven, haul it to the table, and serve, scooping along the bottom and sides to get some of the pumpkin flesh as well as all the stuff inside.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

First and foremost: No, I do not know what a “sincere” pumpkin is. Thank you.

Bill helped me out on this one by getting the top cut off the pumpkin. Since I know how tough those things can be to cut into, and how tall I’d have to be to do it on our counters or table, I appreciate this. However, I did all the gutting of the pumpkin. I didn’t manage to get out all of the strings, but I did get all of the seeds. Which I roasted later that night according to the directions “here”:http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/pumpkinseeds.php, using flavor option #1.

I used my brand-spanking new food processor to shred the cheese. It was TOTALLY overkill for a half cup of cheese, but 1) I wanted to see if the thing worked, since it was super new, 2) I wanted to play with my new kitchen toy and 3) well, I’ve heard food processors are the cat’s pyjamas at shredding cheese, and I wanted to know for myself.

It was awesome.

As for the pumpkin, it’s sincerity might be in question, but it’s size was definitely too big. I went for an 8″ diameter pumpkin at the farmers’ market, but hadn’t written down the requested weight. I also didn’t weigh it when I realized I might have been off. So this sucker was probably too huge. I say that because the milk and broth didn’t even come close to filling it up, as I thought it was supposed to. I added a bunch more, but finally just said, “The heck with it!” and baked it as it was.

Somehow I read “baking dish” as “cookie sheet”. Yeah. That worked out for me, but I really recommend you don’t do the same. Especially if you have kind of flimsy cookie sheets, like I do. This contained all the leakage, so it’s lucky I grabbed one of the the lipped sheets, but it did kind of consider being extra wobbly under the weight of the pumpkin. This was true at all times, but especially true after being heated. A solid 13″ x 9″ pyrex pan would be a good friend to you for this undertaking.

I forgot to line the lid with foil. It was fine. I’m not sure what the purpose of the foil is, but it’s apparently unnecessary.

h3. Consumption

A swing and a miss on this one, I have to say. So far, Bill and I have been pretty pleased with the recipes out of this book, but this one just didn’t work for us in the slightest.

Now, I had a few concerns about it going in, but just for me. I’ve never been a fan of rye bread, but it’s been a lot of years since I’ve had it. Like, I hate to admit it but I’m sure more than a decade. Basically, I hated it as a kid, and so never tried it as an adult. Time has brought me around on other foods like that, so I’m trying to try them all again (except peas). That said, I suspected I was in trouble as I started cutting up the bread. The smell of it kind of turned my stomach. Unfortunately (fortunately?), I had all of the ingredients, and had for over a week, and wasn’t willing to back down based on the smell alone.

My mother grew up with a saying around her house, “There’s always peanut butter.” She passed this on to my sister and I. So we grew up knowing we had to try a dish (“eat three bites”), and sit with the family during dinner. But if we really hated something, we could make ourselves a PB&J later. That’s basically my adult philosophy as well, especially as I tackle this challenge. I wasn’t sure about the rye bread as I was preparing this dish, but 1) sometimes smells and tastes don’t agree with each other and 2) I suspected Bill and Rob would like it anyway, and there’s a big ol’ jar of peanut butter in the pantry and some homemade jam in the fridge (and in the pantry – I have a lot of jam).

However, I was wrong. Yes, Bill had enjoyed eating the half a loaf of rye he’d been allotted before this recipe was made. Yes, we all like pumpkin, and most of the ingredients in this recipe, but it just did not come together.

Really, in the end, that’s what it was. This was like a pile of brown soupy goop in your bowl, with orangey pumpkin scoops next to it. When you ate it, there were punches of rye and pumpkin and onion and cheese, but no melding of the flavors. The onions and bread, in particular stood out. The bread simply because it’s such a flavor on it’s own, and the onions because they were all but raw and, thus, incredibly potent.

I felt a touch bad bad for serving Rob something so mediocre, but only a touch. He knows about this challenge, and knows that it’s a bit of a gamble. He’s had “less than yummy foods”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/56-28-Toasted-Grain-Pilaf.html#fn16837648734c7ed123c6ef1 due this experimenting before. Somehow, he keeps coming back for more food, so something tells me it’s not overwhelming him. And he’s not a half bad cook himself, so this isn’t a case of “desperate bachelor” here.

Anyway, it was fun to cook, and it did look very cool coming out of the oven and so that was neat. All in all, I’m glad I tried it, but it won’t happen again.