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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Muffins

Oh look!  There I am, reflected upside down, in the spoon!
I was reading a newspaper article recently that claimed Halloween was the only "major" American holiday that didn't have a signature food or meal associated with it...Thanksgiving has turkey, Mother's Day has brunch, St. Patrick's Day has green beer, the list just goes on LOL

That statement rang true at first, but as I thought more about it, I realized Halloween does have a signature food...the pumpkin!  I think most of us tend to think of pumpkins as edible only in pie form, but they're part of the winter squash family and as such, are versatile menu players. 

Peeling a fresh whole pumpkin for a recipe is an undertaking, and I prefer when possible to use canned puree (not pumpkin pie filling which is actual pumpkin plus a bunch of other stuff).  The following recipe for soup (which I made for our pre-trick-or-treating repast) only calls for 1/2 a can, so I made muffins with the remaining puree...less waste = less cost = less aggravation.  I am brilliant ;)

The soup recipe is from the Frugal Gourmet Cooks American.  You can make this soup up to the point of adding the scallops and milk and fridge or freeze it (be sure to include scallops and milk as part of the freezer kit to finish the soup).  Just reheat the soup base to a simmer, add the milk and scallops and simmer 5 minutes to finish.  Or if you don't have front-end time to make the soup in its entirety, prep and group the ingredients for next-day or same-day cooking: onion/celery/garlic/ginger in one bowl, flour/spices in another, stock/Worcestershire/Tabasco in a bowl, pumpkin/squash cubes in yet another and scallops/milk saved for last. 

Pumpkin and Scallop Soup
Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1" fresh ginger, minced
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
4 cups seafood stock (recipe follows) or chicken stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
dash Tabasco (optional)
1 cup pumpkin puree (1/2 of a 15 oz. can)
1 cup cubed butternut, acorn, or other winter squash
1 lb. bay scallops
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, celery, garlic, and ginger in oil over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned and softened.  Stir in flour and spices and reduce heat to medium.  Cook 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in stock, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco slowly to avoid lumps.  Whisk in pumpkin puree and add squash cubes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Fridge or freeze at this point if desired. 

Reheat soup to a simmer, if stored.  Add scallops and milk.  Turn off the heat and cover.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon plus 1/8 tsp each of allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree (1/2 of a 15 oz. can)
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup brown sugar
cooking spray

Stir together dry ingredients.  Whisk together wet ingredients, including pumpkin and sugar.  Gently mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible to avoid toughening the batter.

Spray cupcake liners with non-stick cooking spray (don't skip this...I screw up so you don't have to).  Spoon batter into liners.  Bake 20 minutes at 400F.

Seafood Stock
Makes 1 quart

shells from 1-2 lbs. raw shrimp or skin, bones, head from 2 mild-flavored fish
1 onion, halved (optional)
1 rib celery, broken into pieces (optional)
1 tsp whole peppercorns (optional)
1 tsp whole coriander (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)
6 cups water or more to cover

Put everything in a large stockpot.  Make sure water covers shrimp shells.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes.  Strain stock for soup. Pin It

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