The Straw Cottage

eco-accommodation and growing experiments on a small scale

Ripe pumpkins

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Taking shelter from a heavy storm on Saturday, I flicked through a pile of Farmer’s Guardians. I always like to have a quick read through before recycling – even though my pile can get quite big sometimes. I’m keeping myself up to date with news in the farming world mostly but in the 18 October 2013 edition a recipe for pumpkin, apple and cider soup took my eye. I have 2 huge pumpkins left over from last year – and the onions and cooking apples that were needed too.

pumpkin and apple

A home grown pumpkin (Tom Fox) and apple (Bramley Seedling)


I’ve just made the soup for lunch. I started by softening a chopped onion in a knob of butter (the recipe said oil but I think butter always makes a tastier soup). Then a two inch cube of chopped ginger was added, together with half a teaspoon of allspice and a pinch of cayenne, stirring for a further minute or two. Next a peeled and chopped cooking apple and 800g cubed pumpkin flesh was added and softened for a while before adding 500 ml chicken stock and 200ml cider (I had to dink the remaining 368 ml in the bottle of course!). The soup was then simmered for 15 minutes, seasoned and blitzed.
It’s quite a sweet soup, with a ginger kick. It’s fairly nice but I think it needs a bit of something else. Perhaps I should roast the seeds in some spices to sprinkle on top? However, I will try to keep some of the seeds to plant this year too. It’s a Tom Fox variety from the Garden Organic catalogue. I know the seeds won’t come true as I had other varieties nearby but it’s worth a little experiment if I have space.
As I perused the cookery books in a charity shop last week, a Gordon Ramsay book (Kitchen Heaven) fell open at baked pumpkin so I felt obliged to part with 50p. The pumpkin looks great in the page size photo so I’ll have a go at that next. There is also a recipe for pumpkin and parmesan soup in the same book – together with his tips for choosing pumpkin – should be nice and ripe or the dish will be” tasteless and anaemic”. He recommends a dark brown, quite wrinkly skin and bright orange flesh that smells strongly of sweet pumpkin. I think mine fits that bill – hopefully the proof will be in the baking.
I mentioned Carole Deppe in my Potato notes 2013. She is the author of The Resilient Gardener which has a chapter on pumpkin and squash too – one of her staples. She has trialled lots of varieties and selected her favourites for storing, eating fresh and drying. The varieties may not be available in the UK but the chapter makes fascinating reading (as does the rest of the book).

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Author: Carol Atkinson

Farmer's wife, mother, straw bale builder, running two eco holiday cottages - now delving more into food production

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