52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 39: making something with fresh pumpkin

At this little nook of the universe, it's fall and that means pumpkins. They're everywhere now. About two weeks ago I made the first pumpkin pie of the season for Breen. Of course I used the canned puree and that's okay; it's probably how most people make it. Let's face it, it's easy. You pull out a can opener and pour it in to your mixing bowl. But Breen told me a story of how he attempted to make his own pumpkin pie from scratch a few years ago. He used one of the big carving pumpkins. Big mistake because apparently the pumpkin turned in to an ugly shade of green while it was cooking. Who knew that you need a specific type of pumpkin for baking? So it got me thinking that I would love to challenge myself to cooking with fresh pumpkin. I admit that the task felt a little intimidating and daunting at first. But the other day I found three pie pumpkins for $5.00 at my local grocery store. In to my cart they went.

So here's the thing. I didn't want to make the obvious pumpkin pie. I wanted to think outside the box a little and yesterday provided the perfect opportunity for something a little edgy and different: Pumpkin Bisque. I invited my parents over for a little family dinner party for my dad's birthday and the bisque was going to be our starter. Perfect.

A pie pumpkin is much smaller and dense than a regular carving pumpkin. When you look for a pie pumpkin, make sure it is marked as such. When I started out on my project yesterday, I assumed that that pie pumpkins are as easy to cut in to as a carving pumpkin. Boy was I mistaken. The denseness of a pie pumpkin almost feels like a coconut. Breen had to take two of them outside and crack them open with a big cleaver. You can even see the grass from the front lawn.

I washed off the seeds and grass and placed them in a steamer basket and cooked them for about 15-20 minutes.

When the pumpkin can be pierced with a fork, it's time to take them out of the steamer and scoop the flesh out of the shell. Obviously, discard the shell. For this recipe, I needed 3 1/2 cups of fresh pumpkin which turned out to be almost 2 of the pie pumpkins.

Next, you take out a stock pot and saute some onions, leeks, celery and garlic in a little bit of butter until soft. Lots of fresh pepper and kosher salt to taste.

After the onion mixture is softened, you add the pumpkin flesh, herbs and 2 quarts of chicken stock. Let it come to a boil, cover the pot and let it cook on low for about 20 minutes. Remove the herbs and take a few ladles of the broth mixture at a time and puree it in a blender until all the soup is smooth (I learned the hard way that if you fill up the blender too much, it will explode all over the kitchen). I added a bit of half and half, some shakes of Parmesan cheese and a few pinches of nutmeg. I even tried to thicken it a bit by melting some butter and flour and adding it to the bisque. Also, the addition of 3 tablespoons of cooking sherry really elevated this soup to greatness.

I have to say that this soup was delicious! Even the kids loved it. There is a nice earthy flavor from the herbs and the flavors of the other ingredients give it a perfect balanced flavor. I think there was an initial hesitancy to try this because we are so conditioned to think of pumpkin for sweet desserts only. But I'm so glad I was adventurous here. I highly recommend making this soup!

Here is the original recipe

What did you do this week?


  1. How exciting! That looks really good. I made my first pumpkin pie this week too with real pumpkin. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I can't wait to try your bisque recipe.

  2. Yum. That sounds delicious, and I like pumpkin in savory recipes too. But, man, does that sound like a lot of work. And I've been there with the exploding blender of death and also with the espresso on the ceiling machine. Big fun!

    Thanks for the heads up that one needs a "pie pumpkin" to make a pie! This will save me from having to make one from scratch with the giant pumpkins we've gotten already. I do make tasty seasoned pumpkin seeds, however.

  3. ~i've always wanted to try cooking with pumkin but held back...there is a recipe i came across for pumkin raviolis...maybe will have to break out of my comfort zone and try this here and those little raviolis...sounds sooo good...nothing like a hot bowl of soup to soothe ones soul...warm wishes and brightest blessings~

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