My hope of growing a Halloween pumpkin in the same grow bag from which I harvested the early potatoes unfortunately did not work out. Some pumpkins did form but they never swelled to the size required. I now realise the extensive root system really needs the expanse of open soil to develop and support the kind of crop which a healthy plant is capable of producing. That is the lesson for next year although I may have to ask is the garden just too crowded for the pumpkin growing? Meanwhile the fine organically grown pumpkins at Balbriggan Fish and Farmers’ Market last Friday morning were fine specimens and I was glad to get there in time to buy one. The variety, going by the look of it, was ‘Ghostrider’. I must ask Paddy Byrne, who farms in Barnageeragh out the road next time I see him.
The scooping out the flesh and carving the ghoulish face all went fine. The picture below paints a thousand words, so to speak! Now what to do with the flesh? No time to make or eat pie dishes so perhaps soup, most of which could be portioned into containers, labelled and frozen. Thanks to the biodynamic organic Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics of Illinois, USA, I had bought Farmer John’s Cookbook when I met the man himself at a World Organic Congress in Modena, Italy in 2008. Page 315 has a good recipe for Pumpkin Sage Soup.
The garden failed to give me a large pumpkin but the other main ingredient, sage, is dominating the herb patch this year. Apart from that, the ingredients include onion, garlic, parsley, thyme and vegetable stock which could all be provided from the garden.
The way John Peterson makes it his recipe serves 5 or 6 persons.
2 medium pie pumpkins ( 4 to 5 pounds)
1/3 cup olive oil.
1/3 cup whole sage leaves.
1 large onion, minced.
2 cloves garlic minced.
5 pints veg stock or water.
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley.
1 teaspoon fresh thyme.
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
2 teaspoons salt and ground pepper.
If you’ve made soup before you’ll know the normal soup making procedure starting with sauté of onions, adding garlic when onions start to soften. John suggests baking the pumpkin bits first in an oven at 375 F so they are soft and hot when you add them to the onions and garlic along with the other ingredients. Pumpkin can be a little bland by itself so the addition of herbs does make the soup more flavoursome. Once it is simmered for a half hour or so, it looks better if liquidised. A very welcome addition to the darker damp weather at the start of November.