Thumbing through one of my favorite cookbooks, “Potager” Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style, I came upon a unique Roasted Pumpkin Stew whose ingredients swirled in some fresh strips of cabbage along with some cooked Italian riso.
The lovely golden color transformed to soup topped with freshly clipped green chives and a few baked pumpkin seeds for garnish seemed a good choice as a first course for my Halloween dinner, an annual gathering shared with neighbor friends later in the evening following the masses of trick or treaters who in the setting of a large development never seem to be as numerous as before, despite having as many families with small children as ever before. The only conclusion I’ve come to is that one of the villages must collectively be giving out a lot of king sized candy bars.
Maybe it’s just me since having the blog, but I’ve become attached to each season photographing the same spot, marking simple changes, taking in the beauty, even the bareness of winter, patterns of evolving growth and renewal.
This is around the size pumpkin you might use along with a couple medium sized butternut squash in preparing soup du jour, Roasted Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup, Cabbage, Orzo. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in chunks of butternut squash cut up, seasoned, and spread across a baking sheet both before and after cooking which might make it surprising that I’ve on two occasions now forgot to photograph the shot, first when preparing a roasted pear and butternut squash soup toward the team dinner in the area when my favorite college field hockey team was in town a few weeks back (Go Team!) and then again when preparing the Halloween first course.
I did however, remember to photograph the leeks which appeared as much similar to my grandson, the J-Dude, regularly chiming his learned kitchen wisdom that leeks are among the dirtiest of all vegetables, indeed wash em well. As for the soup and its unique addition of fresh cabbage strips and cooked orzo, piping hot bowls of richly flavored yet simple earthy delight brighten any cool season evening, including if barren plot has become the season of one’s own Potager.
- 1 1/2-2 pound cooking pumpkin, approximately, (seeds reserved) plus 2 medium sized butternut squash, the roasted cubes between both should equal around 7-8 cups
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- few pinches coarse kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, white parts with a little bit of green, chopped, rinsed well
- 1/2 medium sized cabbage, thinly sliced into strips then cut in half
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup dry sherry (white wine may be substituted)
- 1 cup cooked orzo
- 5 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
- 3-5 baked pumpkin seeds per bowl for garnish (recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a tiny bowl mix together the cumin, turmeric and salt, stir. Cut stem top off of pumpkin, remove inside seeds to a small colander, leave on the outer pumpkin skin (easily removed once pumpkin is cooked.) Cut pumpkin into quarters lengthwise then cut each of the quarters in half, cut slices into similar sized chunks, spread across a small baking sheet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle over 1/3 of spice mixture, toss to evenly coat the pieces.
- Using a kitchen peeler, peel skin from both butternut squash, lop off the top stem and the bottom. Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and discard, cut halves in half, cut squash into similar sized chunks, spread across a large baking sheet, add 3-4 tablespoons oil, sprinkle on remaining spice mixture coating evenly throughout. Place both trays of pumpkin and squash cubes into the oven, roasting for an hour or a little longer until tender throughout.
- While the pumpkin and squash are roasting, cook orzo till el dente following package directions, rinse in cool water, drain, set aside. On very low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large soup pot, add in the leeks, cook until tender, around five minutes, pour in the chicken stock cook until hot, drop in the cabbage strips, simmer until tender, around ten minutes. Turn off heat.
- Remove roasted pumpkin and butternut squash from oven let cool slightly. Ladle a few cups of the chicken stock into a measuring cup. Topple butternut squash into a blender, pour in some of the chicken stock and pulse to puree, transfer puree to pot. On the very lowest heat place baking sheet on top burner, scrape up any bits, pour in 2/3 of the sherry (or white wine) stir together with the scrapings, heat gently then pour mixture into the soup pot. Remove outer skin from pumpkin and discard, place roasted chunks into the blender, add in some stock, pulse until smooth, transfer batch to soup pot, place tray onto burner on the very lowest heat, scraping up any bits, pour over the remaining sherry, stir and cook a minute, transfer to the soup pot, stir. Turn soup pot on low heat and cook soup through until hot, stir in the orzo, cook a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls topping with fresh snipped chives and a few baked pumpkin seeds as garnish.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse seeds well removing any attached pumpkin, dry slightly using a paper towel. Spread pumpkin seeds across a baking sheet, toss with around a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling each of salt and pepper, bake for around 35 minutes until golden, stirring once in between and checking for doneness depending on individual oven calibration.