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Pumpkins Shine Past Halloween

Published by Selina Gugliotti

New Orleans Home Cooking, and food columnist for New Orleans Magazine, “A little cinnamon here, a pinch of nutmeg there, and pumpkin morphs into the perfect accompaniment to lamb, pork, fowl or beef.”

In New Orleans, pumpkin soup can be enhanced with a variety of local specialties including crabmeat, shrimp or andouille. “Some versions are a ringer for butternut squash soup because of similar textures and tastes,” said Curry. “It also tastes similar to some carrot soups I’ve had. All three are a beautiful color.”

When planning your meal, make sure to choose a pumpkin that has a strong orange color, with no cuts or bruises. It should be firm with a hollow sound when tapped. Bigger isn’t always better, as larger pumpkins tend to be watery with little flavor.

To prepare your pumpkin for cooking, chop it in four pieces, cut out the seeds and then the flesh. Cut the flesh into cubes and then steam or boil in a little water until tender.

Halloween may be over, but your former Jack O Lantern has a few more tricks and treats in store!

Pumpkin Soup (Courtesy Dale Curry, New Orleans Home Cooking)

Serves 8

4 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb. andouille sausage, chopped
3 14-oz. cans chicken stock or equivalent homemade
5 cups pumpkin, pureed, cooked fresh or canned
1 large potato, peeled and cubed in 1/2″ pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. thyme leaves, dried
1 cup heavy cream

Heat butter in large, heavy pot and sauté onion and celery until soft. Add garlic and sausage and sauté a few minutes more. Add chicken stock, pumpkin, potato, salt, pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and thyme, and simmer until potatoes are done. Puree the soup, about 1 cup at a time, in a blender. Adjust seasonings. When ready to serve, add heavy cream and heat. Do not boil. If you like the soup thinner, add a little more cream or milk to your liking. Serve in bowls with a dash of freshly grated nutmeg.

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