Guest Author - T. Lynn Adams
Soup inside a pumpkin? Yes! You can serve this for a wonderful, warm and fun dinner.
There are two popular ways of doing it. One is to bake the soup completely inside the pumpkin. This seems to work best if you want to bake a pureed soup.
If, however, you want to serve a chunkier soup, such as a thick stew, then bake the pumpkin and the soup separately. That way you know the thicker potatoes and carrot pieces are thoroughly cooked. Pour the completed stew into the baked pumpkin tureen just before serving. (I learned this the hard way. I tried cooking a stew completely inside the pumpkin. It didn’t work. The pumpkin was cooked too long and collapsed on one side while the potatoes in the stew were still al-dente. It was one of my more disastrous meals.)
For either method, select a proper sized pumpkin for your meal. Six to ten pounds is usually sufficient. Make sure the pumpkin can stand upright on its own. You do not want to serve hot soup in a wobbly pumpkin.
Very carefully wash and rinse the outside of the pumpkin. Cut off the top, as you would for carving. Remove the strings and the seeds from both the pumpkin and the lid; but do not scrape the flesh from inside the shell. Leave it as thick as you can. This will help give rigidity to the baked pumpkin and provide a wonderful ‘extra’ to the soup.
Now spray the outside of the pumpkin with cooking spray or lightly brush it with oil. Place it on a sturdy baking sheet lined with foil. (For both methods, if you want to bake the lid, put a large piece of foil over the opening you cut in the pumpkin and rest the lid on top of this foil. This will keep it from falling inside the pumpkin while roasting.)
SOUP BAKED INSIDE THE PUMPKIN
Simply fill the uncooked pumpkin with your favorite pureed or creamed soup. (You can even use canned soup and we won’t tell anyone) Bake at 350 degrees 1 to 1 ½ hours. Do not over bake! The pumpkin wall could collapse in on itself if the flesh it too tender. Test the pumpkin by scrapping gently at the flesh inside the cavity. You want the flesh to be cooked but with some firmness left. It is better to keep the pumpkin flesh undercooked rather than overcooked. To serve, ladle out the soup then add a scoop of baked pumpkin on top of the soup.
Try baking these cream soups inside the pumpkin: cream of mushroom soup, cream of tomato soup, creamed potato soup (also called mashed potato soup), cream of vegetable soup, creamed onion soup, etc.
STEW BAKED SEPARATELY THEN SERVED INSIDE A COOKED PUMPKIN
Make your favorite stew separately, cooking it until the done. While your stew is simmering to perfection, place the prepared pumpkin tureen inside the oven and bake at 350 for 1 to 1 ½ hour. Do not over bake or it will split open when you add the soup. Test the doneness of the flesh by gently scrapping at it with a spoon. You want the flesh to be cooked but with some firmness left. It is better to keep the pumpkin flesh undercooked rather than overcooked. Now remove the pumpkin and carefully spoon the finished stew inside the cavity and serve. As you ladle out the stew, add a scoop of baked pumpkin on top of each serving.
BEEF STEW RECIPE
1 packet of beef gravy mix
1 c. flour
2 lbs of beef stew meat, in 1-inch cubes
¼ c. oil
1 can beef broth or 1 beef bouillon cube
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 stalks of celery, diced
½ c. chopped onion
In a plastic bag, mix the gravy mix and flour together. Add the stew meat to the bag and shake to coat well.
In a large pan, brown the floured meat in the oil. When pieces are cooked, remove them from the pan to a plate. Add water to deglaze the pan. For more flavor, add a can of beef broth or beef bouillon. To the broth base in the pan add the vegetables and enough water to cover. Bring to boil then reduce heat. Add beef chunks and simmer until vegetables are done and broth is thickened.