Children love the surprise of taking the lid off a pumpkin to discover steaming soup inside. Transforming one pumpkin into a hot, nourishing soup and then using a second pumpkin as a serving bowl is a wonderful lesson in the origins of the food we eat. y you are in doubt about whether or not a particular pumpkin is good for cooking, choose a butternut squash instead, but still serve the soup in a pumpkin tureen. A French variety, 'Rouge d'Etampes' or a 'Sugar Pie' baking pumpkin would be a good choice for cooking.
Small children can butter and season the pumpkin before it is baked, then once it is cool enough to handle, they can scrape out the soft meat. Older children can cook the beans and roast the peppers. Young children will enjoy pushing the button on the blender or food processor to purée the soup, and everyone will take pleasure in the final moment when the soup is ladled into its pumpkin tureen.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the larger of the pumpkins into sections about 3 to 4 inches wide, scraping out and discarding the seeds and their fibers. Place the pumpkin slices on a baking sheet and dot them with the butter. Bake until very soft and tender, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove and let stand until cool enough to handle. Scrape the soft meat from the skins; you should have 4 to 5 cups. Set aside. While the pumpkin is baking, rinse the beans and place in a pot with the water, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the bay leaf, and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beans are tender and soft, about 1-1/2 hours. Drain, reserving the liquid. Cover the drained beans and set aside.
Preheat the broiler. Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet and broil until charred on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plastic bag and let sweat for a few minutes, then peel away the skin. Slit each pepper in half and discard the stems, seeds, and ribs. Place peppers in a blender or food processor and add 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock. Purée until smooth and transfer to a bowl.
Working in batches, if necessary, place the cooked pumpkin in the blender or food processor along with the remaining 1 cup vegetable stock and 1 cup of the reserved bean cooking liquid. purée until smooth. Add the puréed peppers and process until combined. Pour into a soup pot and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Place the pot over medium heat and stir often until the soup is hot, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved beans and cook for 5 minutes, or until the beans are heated thoroughly.
Meanwhile, to prepare the pumpkin tureen, slice off the upper one-quarter to one-third of the remaining pumpkin to make a lid. Using a metal spoon, scoop out all the seeds and any stringy bits from the interior and discard. Pour the hot soup into the tureen, place the lid on top, and bring to the table. To serve, remove the lid and ladle the hot soup into bowls.
Serves 6 to 8
The Children's Kitchen Garden
by Georgeanne & Ethel Brennan
$16.95, / paperback
Publication Date: June 1, 1997
Reprinted by permission.
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