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How to Use the Whole Pumpkin at Halloween
Recipe for pumpkin soup
- How to make pumpkin soup - a simple recipe for the autumn
A simple recipe for a creamy, tasty and warming pumpkin soup to keep out the autumn chills. Make the most of your halloween pumpkin by using the leftover flesh to make this soup.
Pumpkins are a fantastic food - versatile, tasty, nutritious and filling. I am amazed by the number of people who buy pumpkins for decoration only and throw away the contents because they either don't know what to do with it or think they don't like pumpkin to eat. Here are some ideas of how to make the most of the whole vegetable.
If hollowing out to make a jack-o-lantern, choose a flat bottomed pumpkin and slice off the lid, then you can first scoop out the seeds and put these to one side, then take out as much flesh as you can and store separately before carving.
The seeds are probably the most nutritious part of the pumpkin, very high in zinc, magnesium, omega 3 oils, and many other beneficial minerals. They are thought to be good for prostate problems, arthritis and prevention of brittle bones, amongst other things.
How to use: Once removed from the pumpkin they need to be cleaned. The best way to do this is to wash in a seive to remove any fleshy bits, shake off any excess moisture then lay out to dry off on a kitchen towel. They are great sprinkled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes, and can be eaten on their own as a snack or added to salads, breads, muesli, flapjacks, as part of a crumble topping - the culinary possibilities are numerous! If you don't want to eat them all you could save some for growing next year's pumpkins, or use them in crafts - threaded up to make necklaces, or used in collages.
Once dried the seeds can be stored, raw or roasted, in an airtight container for a few months. Make sure raw seeds are completely dry, but not shrivelled up, before storing.
When scooping out a pumpkin it is quite difficult to get any large peices out, you tend to get thin slithers rather than chunks. For this reason the flesh is probably best used as a puree. To make a puree, bake in the oven with a little water in a large flat dish until the flesh is soft right through, and then put through the blender and either use immediately in your recipe or freeze in suitable sized portions for later use.
The best uses for pumpkin puree are pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin soup.
If you do manage to get any large chunks out these can be used for roasting, adding to casseroles, or can be frozen whole for later use.
Recipes for all are readily available on the net, so I will not duplicate them here.
So now you are just left with your shell, hollowed out and ready to carve - you could just cut out a simple "evil face" and put a candle in, or create an artistic masterpiece. Pumpkin carving has become quite an art form and there are many ideas to be found on the internet. Below are a few ideas that I found to inspire you.
There are a few bits and pieces that will not get used - the pulpy flesh around the seed for instance, and the shell (once Halloween is over), but these can both be put in your compost to make some new soil for your garden. Animals such as pigs will also appreciate the leftovers.
And there you have it, the whole pumpkin put to good use!
P.S. A note of caution: Never leave burning candles unattended, especially with the lid on the pumpkin, as this will eventually dry out and can catch on fire. Battery operated "candles" are a much safer option if you have them, and there are some quite realistic looking ones available on the market.