Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Cream of Jack-o-Lantern soup

Jerry Stratton, October 14, 2020

Use the body parts of your hallowe’en pumpkin to make a tasty, if disconcerting, pumpkin soup.

Servings: 2
Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • pumpkin carving leftovers
  • ¼ cup sliced green onion
  • 1 ½ tablespoons melted butter
  • 5 oz chicken broth
  • ½ small tomato, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup milk

Steps

  1. Place the pumpkin pieces on a pan and cover with aluminum foil.
  2. Bake at 350° until tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Mash; adjust remaining ingredients in proportion to one cup of mashed pumpkin.
  4. Sauté green onion in butter until tender.
  5. Add remaining ingredients except cream and milk.
  6. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Purée in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  8. Mix cream and milk together, then add into soup and heat through.
Lit jack-o-lantern: Jack-o-lantern with burning candle and bone spiders crawling out of skull.; Hallowe’en; pumpkins

What’s more eerie, a glowing pumpkin-head flickering orange and red in the deep of the night, or making a soup from its eyes, nose, and lips?

Every Hallowe’en I take a delicious pumpkin, carve it inexpertly into a face, and put it outside to rot. It always seems like a great waste of a mass of very nice food. As much as I make fun of the spread of pumpkin spice throughout the food chain from potato chips to pasta sauce, I thoroughly enjoy real pumpkin.

It occurred to me last year that, while I can’t use the pumpkin head after it’s been sitting outside several days, I do have a handful of material left over from the carving. Would that be enough to make something out of?

Yes, carving my single medium-sized pumpkin provided almost exactly one cup of mashed pumpkin. That’s not enough for a full pie, but it does make a great couple of servings of cream of pumpkin soup. The recipe assumes that after roasting and mashing, you have approximately one cup of mashed pumpkin. You’ll need to adjust the ingredients in this recipe in proportion to that.

Pumpkin soup: Pumpkin soup made from the parts leftover after carving a Hallowe’en pumpkin.; soups and stews; pumpkins

It’s a mildly-flavored soup that goes well with sandwiches.

If you’re carving four or more pumpkins, you’ve got a full meal left over in your carvings.

You can add meat, croutons, or other crunchies to further improve the soup; a dollop of cream or yogurt; and/or some sliced green onion or herb.

It is, to me at least, more than a bit weird eating a soup made of fake body parts, even, or especially, fake body parts from a fake supernatural creature. Jack-o-lanterns are supposed to protect the home they’re placed outside of. Do they resent my feasting on their senses? Will this turn them against me? Will they become the evil spirt they’re supposed to drive away?

I survived last year, but if you don’t see any blog posts after October 31, invest in holy water and crucifixes. To quote many a comic book character or movie character, “horror movies start this way.”

This recipe is a modified version of Cream of Pumpkin Soup from the Southern Living Holiday Cookbook.

October 19, 2022: Pumpkin rarebit soup
Comedy/tragedy pumpkins: Two pumpkins from Hallowe’en 2021.; Hallowe’en; pumpkins

They gave their lives for rarebit stew.

In my continuing quest to find uses for the body parts I collect in the runup to Hallowe’en, last year I made Mollie Katzen’s pumpkin rarebit soup from her Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Since starting this annual series, I’ve taken to carving two Hallowe’en pumpkins just so I have more body parts left over. The way I cut a pumpkin, two of them provide about four cups of meat. This recipe uses it all.

You can, of course, very easily half this recipe. You’re going to be drinking some of the beer anyway, so why not drink more? And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying pumpkin in a can or jar, or buying fresh pumpkins just to make the soup. It’s less grisly that way.

If I have pumpkin left over, I’ll bake it within a few days of carving, then freeze it in a plastic bag in the until I’m ready to use it.

This is a very comfort-food soup. It has all the flavors of a good old-fashioned soup, simmered together: beer, cheddar cheese, and even a touch of that once-ubiquitous outdoor flavoring, Worcestershire sauce.

Katzen removed from this soup from the “new, improved” version of the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, replacing it with an Arizona Pumpkin Soup that, while superficially similar, gets rid of the beer, the cheese, and the Worcestershire sauce.

Pumpkin Rarebit Soup: Pumpkin Rarebit Soup from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest.; Ithaca; Hallowe’en; pumpkins

In other words, all the good stuff. There are few flavors that better enhance squash than lots of butter or cheese, especially with some pepper added in.

In honor of that bowdlerization, I’m calling for Lone Star beer in the ingredients to make this a Texas Pumpkin Soup. But honestly, you can use any beer. The original recipe calls for light beer, which I can’t recommend, for the simple reason that I never have any on hand and so haven’t tried it. I use Lone Star most of the time, and if I don’t, I use Peroni. I should experiment with some darker beers—I expect a good porter would be great—but Hallowe’en only comes once a year.

October 20, 2021: Cream of coconut jack-o-lantern soup
Jack-o-lantern pair: A pair of jack-o-lanterns burning in the night.; Hallowe’en; pumpkins

Double the pumpkins, double the body parts.

This is how cereal killers are born: baking the leftover body parts of my Hallowe’en jack-o-lantern worked so well in 2019 that I decided to carve two pumpkins in 2020.

That meant I had two one-cup (or half-pound) pumpkin recipes to try out. The first, a pumpkin cookie from the Better Homes & Gardens Homemade Cookies book, was fine but nothing to blog about. Partly it’s my own preferences—I prefer crispier or chewier cookies, and this was a standard sort of light, fluffy drop cookie. I was a little disappointed, though: this has otherwise been a very good cookbook.

My original plan was to use the other half of the pumpkin to make last year’s soup. I don’t buy pumpkin, normally, except for Hallowe’en, and I was looking forward to having this soup again. But while browsing through Carole Clements’s Gourmet Soup Book I saw a recipe for “Pumpkin and Coconut Soup”. It looked like a lot of work—it required milking and grating a fresh coconut—but the soup itself looked very, very good. This is a great book that I don’t use often enough, and this looked like an opportunity to try another recipe from it.

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