Repurposing Art Into Food: Charred Herb Pumpkin Soup
Fall has settled in here on the west coast. The days are hastily shortening, the autumn leaves have changed to gold and red, offering up speckles of contrast here and there to the rich emerald green pines and cedars. Everything feels to be in transition. The hustle and bustle energy of summer continues to wash away with each day of rain. The therapeutic pitter patter sounds of each drop dancing on the roof tops inviting us to slow down and to cozy up.
Tis’ the season of oversized sweaters. Of big beautiful mugs of piping hot herbal tea to be sipped slowly with two hands; of deep bowls of nourishing broths and soups to warm the belly and comfort the soul. And also, at the end of October, a celebratory day twisted from a few religious connotations such as celebrating the departed saints, martyrs, and faithful departed Christians, to contemporary hallmark offshoots of costume parties, pumpkin carving, and trick-or-treating – all hallows’ eve aka halloween!
It is a favorite amongst many westerners, likely spurred by the endless sugar that trick-or-treating provides, the freedom felt by kids as they run around the streets with their friends, and of course the opportunity to dress up and embody their favorite animal, movie character, or superhero. For six consecutive halloweens I roamed and protected the neighbourhood from evil as Shira Warrior Princess and I would need no persuasion to make it seven. I often wonder why we reserve this one day of the year, or a themed party, or festival to wear a cape or sparkles, but that’s another conversation for another time.
The pumpkin carving is another gem of the fall season. Cruising the muddy aisles of a farm to pick out the perfect pumpkin and carving triangles for eyes and a swiggle for a smile. Lighting them up with a little votive cancel on halloween and seeing the face glow in the dark. Or making arrangements of beautiful heirloom pumpkins.Food art!
While playing with food and costume parties never grows old, personally I gotta say that the palate has shifted over the years away from candy. Gone are the days of tummy aches from inhaling a pillowcase filled with the night’s forage of sweets, and in are the indulgences of the candy of the fields, also known as squashes and pumpkins. You know, the rich and delicious butternut squashes, acorn squashes, the porcelain dolls, the long island cheese. And cmon’ pumpkin spiced lattes! Technically a serving of vegetables with coffee. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch… Ha! If my 8-year old self could have known that I would trade in a kit-kat for a field pumpkin, she would have never believed it. But it’s true. And let’s get clear here, this has nothing to do with growing up and everything to do with…..less cavities? Researching the impacts of processed sugar on our health plays a role in this transition for sure. But it is no way the advent of a playful spirit being lost. Don’t you worry!
In celebration of fall and whatever beliefs you subscribe to surrounding halloween, of healthy food and sustainability, we at The Den, are excited to share with you this yummy Charred Herb Pumpkin Soup. It’s a chance to repurpose the uncarved art pieces that are the beautiful pumpkins that can be found in our homes this time of year. The jack-o-lanterns (carved pumpkins) we suggest composting vs tossing in the trash, this way they are life-giving and help feed other plants (they help create incredible soil) instead of rotting away in the landfill and actually creating extra carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere.
Happy Halloween. Happy Harvest from everyone at The Den.
And hey, a little nibble of candy if you feel called to never hurt anyone either. The stress around a few bites is surely more damaging than a snickers of two. Also, if you choose to dawn your costume a week earlier, we won’t judge either.
Charred Herb Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin/squash NOT carved, 1 medium
*Reach for smaller pumpkins to roast and eat. Their flavours yield a better experience than the big ginormous carving ones. About a 4-5 pound one should do the trick for this recipe.
Onion, 1 medium
Coconut, avocado, or grapeseed oil, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
Garlic, 1 head (not clove….the whole head.)
Rosemary fresh, 1 branch
Sage fresh, 4 sprigs,
Thyme, 4 springs
Coconut milk regular, 1 can
Honey or maple syrup, 1 Tablespoon
Salt, 2 tsp
Pepper, 3 tsp
Water or vegetable broth, ½ cup - 1 ½ cup
Wash your pumpkin.
*Do no use a carved pumpkin for this.
Carefully cut the pumpkin into equal sized chunks and wedges. The goal is to keep them similar in size so they can cook at the same rate.. Bigger chunks will take longer to cook through. For this recipe let’s roll with 2 inch wide pieces by 3-4 inches in length.
*Don’t stress about getting this exact, just keep a watchful eye on them during the cooking process to avoid burning them.
- Scoop out seeds and aside in a bowl.
- Set the oven to 400F.
- Cover a sheet or two with parchment paper.
- Spread pumpkin evenly on baking sheets.
- Cut 1 medium onion into 8 chunks and add to baking sheet as well.
- Drizzle with avocado oil, melted coconut oil, grape seed oil, or any other oil that can handle higher heats (not olive oil).
- Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Take a head of garlic and cut the top off.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of oil or a spoon of coconut oil on the garlic head and wrap in foil.
- Place on the baking sheet too.
Bake for 35-60 minutes or until cooked through. The garlic will like about 45 minutes of baking time.. The big sliding scale for the squash is dependent on how big you cut the chunks as well as the strength of your oven. Be sure to rotate the pans about halfway through the cooking process.
*Smaller chunks = less time // Bigger chunks = more cooking time
- Once cooked, take out the pumpkin trays and set aside.
- Bake herbs for 10-15 minutes or until dried.
- Remove herbs from the oven and take the leaves off their stems as best you can.
- Chop finely.
- Measure out 2 Tablespoons of herbs.
- Take the skin of the pumpkin off, once it’s cooled enough to touch.
- Do the same with the garlic, squeezing out the cooked garlic from the skin.
- In a blender add 4 cups of pumpkin, garlic, onion, coconut milk, honey or maple syrup, herbs, salt, and pepper, ½ cup of vegetable broth or water.
- If your blender needs a little assistance add water or vegetable broth by the 1/4 cup and blend until smooth.
- Feeling creative? Serve the soup in another pumpkin.
Use extra pumpkin for an addition to any salad, bowl, soup, or spread on toast. This soup also freezes great if you want to make a bigger batch and save for another meal.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Fresh pumpkin seeds
*additional seasoning if you like
- Separate seeds from the rest of the squash strings and goop.
- A trick that helps with this process is to separate them in a bowl of water. The seeds will float and the rest of the gunk will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- Set oven to 350F.
- Dry the seeds in a colander or a kitchen towel.
- Combine seeds, a drizzle of oil, a sprinkle of salt and/or any other seasoning you might like.
- Spread seeds out on a baking sheet.
- Cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring often.
- Seeds are ready when they are crunchy.
Keep in an airtight container for a great extra to sprinkle on a salad or bowl or even a soup. Or as a nutritious snack to grab a palm full.
By Taylor Godber