What are some ways to use pumpkin?
During the autumn months I tend to buy and use a lot of pumpkin. Although a wide range of squash is available at the grocers and the farmers markets in Belgium, muscat pumpkins are my favorite. Muscat pumpkins are different from the pumpkins generally sold in the US. I now prefer their texture and taste over the US variety. They also seem to have more flesh, making them a wonderful source for many recipes.
Once I start using a pumpkin, I try to find other ways to use the rest of the pumpkin during the week. Chopped raw pumpkin added to my morning oatmeal or smoothie, pasta with pumpkin-ricotta sauce, roasted vegetables with pumpkin, a myriad of pumpkin soups, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie and now this week pumpkin risotto, to name a few examples. Of course, there is also pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin ice cream, and the list goes on.
Last week I was preparing an intimate family dinner for 5 (my two children, two of my Belgian sisters and myself). My son had been asking me for a couple weeks to make a lentil soup so I prepared a Pumpkin Tomato Lentil Soup as our starter. I planned to follow with pappardelle pasta with pumpkin-ricotta sauce as our main course. Then my younger sister asked if we could make a pumpkin pie together since she never had made one. Only the pumpkin pasta dish was planned, the other dishes were added on the spot. Everyone helped in some way to make the dinner. We enjoy cooking together and showing each other how to make new dishes. Fortunately I had all the ingredients in the house to make all these dishes.
How can you make a rustic winter soup using pumpkin?
Every time I make a pumpkin soup it is a new creation, depending on the ingredients I have in stock and my mood. When making soup (like with bread) I prefer letting my creativity lead the cooking process.
Pumpkin goes well with a variety of spices and flavors, such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cumin, red chili peppers, garam masala curry, paprika, coriander, sage, thyme, rosemary and garlic. Coconut or tomatoes are also delicious with pumpkin. Of course, not all of these spices and flavors should be added together in one dish, but definitely a few of them at a time. In Belgium people tend to prefer a creamy pumpkin soup without a lot of flavor. I however prefer adding some spices to my pumpkin soup and even adding a couple of apples sometimes to help bring the flavors together.
Over the next month or so I will be sharing other recipes for pumpkin soup with you. I hope that you will let these recipes inspire you to create your own unique soups.
This Pumpkin Tomato and Lentil Soup is easy to make, economical, tasty, and healthy. What more could you ask for? Please try it and share your feedback in the comments below. Remember to pass this recipe on to your friends using social media. They will thank you for sending it!