The Happy Pumpkin

Pumpkin patch @ Hitchin Lavender farm

It’s that time of year again when the the nights are drawing in, the clocks have changed and the leaves are falling from the trees. I do love all the sounds and colours of autumn, the sense of change in the air with the reds, oranges and browns. I find it funny that they are all warming colours even though the weather outside is getting colder. This time of year is also about seeing the plump round pumpkins are a lovely seasonal vegetable even if I don’t enjoy so much the sentiment of the Jack ‘o’ lantern of Halloween.

Pumpkins that are grown for carving are actually getting quite a lot of bad press at the moment for not being all that environmentally friendly. According to the US Department of Energy:

Pumpkins that end up in landfil decompose and eventually emit methane, a greenhouse gas with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.

The orange pumpkins that are grown for carving are thinner skinned and do not contain as much flesh. The issue comes when they are wasted. Some people are not aware that they are totally edible still. The best thing to do with the pumpkins after carving is to actually eat them (before they go yucky and moldy).

If you are looking to carve pumpkins as lanterns then I totally recommend finding a local pumpkin patch like we did at Hitchin Lavender fields. You can read my previous post about the lavender there in the summer months. You have to pre-book but it is really worth the experience with the kids of getting a wheelbarrow to select which one they wanted, albeit a bit muddy when we went. In doing so you are supporting a local business and keeping these places open. We carved ours with happy faces and one carved as Ironman of course by my Marvel superhero loving 4 year old!

Usually this time of year on behalf of our church community we host a bonfire party in our garden with a small firework display and we batch cook soups to serve with hot dogs as well as having a craft tent for the children. Last year I made up some pumpkin soup which went down a treat with several people asking for the recipe so here it is:

Happy Pumpkin Soup

  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1Kg pumpkins or squash de-seeded, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 700ml vegetable or chicken stock (vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 150ml double cream (optional)
  • A thumb size piece of ginger grated

Method

  1. Fry the onion in a pan in the sunflower oil until soft but not browned
  2. Add the grated ginger and fry for a further few minutes
  3. Add the pumpkin and fry for around 8 minutes until it is beginning to soften
  4. Pour in the stock making sure it covers the pumpkin, simmer for 20 minutes
  5. Blend the soup with a hand held blender
  6. Swirl the cream before serving

The ginger give this soup a warm kick. This soup has a lovely warm colour but if you want a more orange soup then adding a carrot to the recipe also works well or a teaspoon of turmeric to give it some more oomph. I do love soup on a cold winter’s day and with some crusty homemade bread makes a wonderful filling lunch. Also don’t forget you can toast the pumpkin seeds too in a little olive oil and seasoning and they are a delicious snack, being eco by using the waste.

Toss the pumpkin seeds in a little olive oil and roast for 20 mins at a high oven temperature

A lovely eco gift idea might be to team this up with a soup Thermos. A good quality thermos made from stainless steel should last a very long time. Even flasks made from plastic will will get lots of use and are a thoughtful gift. You could give it with a soup recipe book or even use this recipe to go with it. This is a gift that is reusable and eco. I can think of a number of people that would like this and might just be getting one as a Christmas present this year. Who can you make a happy pumpkin?

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