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Turn your holiday decorations into a meal! Many of us keep a fresh pumpkin on our porch as a cheap and easy way to add some autumn cheer, and the idea of letting anything go to waste really irks us, so I decided to try to re-use my pumpkin and turn it into something edible. I thought a soup would be manageable, and found an awesome recipe online, but the simplerecipes.com recipe was just a tad too bitter and spicy for me with the amount of garlic, onions and spices it called for, so I slightly modified the recipe. The soup is now flavorful without being too garlicky or spicy, and is creamy, buttery and thick. For busy mothers, this soup can be made in less than thirty minutes, provided you have all ingredients on hand. Roasting the pumpkin takes the longest amount of time-from 60-90 minutes. So for a quick meal, having roasted pumpkin or pumpkin purée prepared ahead of time is a must. I haven’t had any trouble encouraging anyone to try this soup-my son even raves that he loves it, but it does have the consistency of pea soup and has a distinct pumpkin flavor-so may not be for everyone. The Spicy Pumpkin soup recipe I found is actually adapted from one featured in Oprah Magazine, and is at http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/spicy_pumpkin_soup/. My modified recipe calls for: • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped • 1 teaspoon minced garlic • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander • 6 cups of chopped roasted pumpkin • 2 ½ cups chicken broth • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth • 2 cups of milk • 1/2 cup brown sugar • 1/2 cup heavy cream

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Preparing the Pumpkin Purée

Cut around the large stem of your medium-large pumpkin as if you are going to carve it. Pop off the stem and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Rinse the seeds and set aside for toasting later. Then, cut the pumpkin in half, rub oil on the skin, and lay hollow side down on a greased foil-lined baking pan. Add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan and bake at 350°F until soft, about 60-80 minutes. Periodically start checking the pumpkin at around 50 minutes until it is darker, soft and cuts like butter. Once the pumpkin is done, cool, and remove from the skin. Once you have measured out 6 cups of pumpkin, you can freeze the rest to be used for pies, soups or even smoothies.

Making the Soup

Step 1 Melt butter in a large saucepan (one that can hold at least 4-quarts), then add the onions and garlic and cook about 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add spices while stirring. Step 2 Add the pumpkin puree and 5 cups of broth.. Stir well, and bring to a boil then let simmer for about 15 minutes. Step 3 Turn heat to low. Using a hand held mixer, blend pumpkin and broth until smooth. Add brown sugar and blend until all chunks are gone. Step 4 Slowly stir in milk and cream until well blended. You’re done! If spicy doesn’t appeal to you or your guests, just omit the red pepper. Want it spicier? Just add two teaspoons of curry powder, and a pinch of cayenne. To serve, pour soup in individual bowls and garnish with some toasted pumpkin seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste. This recipe is versatile, and fun to make. It produces so much soup (8-10 servings), that it is also quite cost effective; one $4-5 holiday pumpkin can be easily re-used into wonderful meals and healthy snacks. I enjoyed this recipe and found it easy to make because once the pumpkin purée is made, it is only a matter of cooking and blending all ingredients together. If you have pumpkin purée on hand, this recipe will take little time and effort to create a delicious and filling meal.

Link for Spicy Pumpkin Soup: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/spicy_pumpkin_soup/ Link for Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/toasted_pumpkin_seeds/

Note: Edited article published in the Print Edition of the Victoria Advocate November 24, 2010