There must be 50 ways to lose your pumpkins… Part 1 of 2 (with apologies to Paul Simon)

If you asked me where most of the world’s pumpkin supply was grown I’d say it was within 10 square miles of my front door.  Evidently, I would be wrong.  The town of Morton, (near Peoria) Illinois, is the self-proclaimed Pumpkin Capital of the World.  They claim to grow almost 90% of all pumpkins grown in the US of A.  I’m sure they must be correct.  I mean, after all, they wouldn’t have the gourds to make stuff up, right? ;-)

I still have my doubts.  We seem to be in pumpkin central.  You can’t drive in any direction from my house without passing a pumpkin patch or roadside stand.  I might have gone a little overboard myself.  It started with Halloween decorating.  First it was the Jack O’Lantern pumpkins.  Just a few (few being 6).  Then a nice sized sugar pumpkin (for “putting aside”).  Then somehow our Jack collection grew to a dozen, although some were just mixed into the mums around the house and driveway (and many were not even carved).  Then I just had to have at least a dozen smaller sugar pumpkins to place on the front porch railings (in exactly even spaces- I may have gotten carried away).  It was 2 straight weeks of pumpkin heaven.

And then comes November 1st.  I tried to convince Grumpy that pumpkin means fall; it’s not just a Halloween deco.  First, he got rid of the Jack O’Lanterns.  Then he started giving the hairy eyeball to the big, uncarved pumpkins mingling (hiding in terror) among the mums.  Finally he wanted to take down my sweet pumpkin menagerie from the porch!  Time for a compromise.  I convinced him that the porch pumpkins should stay until after Thanksgiving, and agreed to process (put aside) or dispose of the rest.

So…it started with selections.  Anything that didn’t make the “cut” was taken out to the woods for the enjoyment of the wood fairies.  Then the real cutting happened.  Two good sized pumkins were selected: a sugar pumpkin for canning and a Jack was set aside for more savory dishes.  That Jack was a Beast! I scooped, cleaned, sectioned, peeled and cubed like crazy.  Roasted just a small batch of seeds this year as we really just pick at them.  The rest always go out to the birds, who might not appreciate the sodium.  Half of Jack went into the freezer for future use (maybe some ravioli, rissoto, etc).  I chose freezer for the savory pumpkin as it should have a bit more texture.  The rest of Jack was destined for pumpkin soup.

I wasn’t in a “find a recipe” mood, more like a “just wing it” mode, but here’s the scoop: I sauteed a small chopped onion in a bit of butter (a bit= a hunk).  Then I added the pumpkin, chicken stock to cover (it’s actually floating in the photo), 3 Bay leaves, 1 tsp dried thyme and 1/2 tsp rosemary.  This was cooked until the pumpkin was soft.  I removed the Bay leaves, used a stick mixer (wand?) to whip it silky smooth.  Then I added some heavy cream; about a cup.  Then a good grind of pepper.

Then, just for fun, I swirled a tiny bit of cream in the center of the bowl when I served it to my unsuspecting tasters.  The survey says:  PJ says it’s “not bad”, Avery declined to participate (she’s 14, sigh),  Grumpy and Syd gave it 2 thumbs up (Bailey was not home).  My opinion: it can’t hold a candle to pumpkin rissoto, but it’s still a very tasty fall soup.  So this one will be a keeper.