There are lots of fruits and vegetables that are grown in our backyards which we have little or no idea on how to prepare or use them. Sometimes, these vegetables are just left in the garden or refrigerator without making the best use of them. It is high time you start creating new recipes with those fruits youve got in your backyard, instead of leaving them to get rotten. If you are a watermelon, squash, and cantaloupe lover, it means you have in one way or the other come across this large orange and sometimes green coloured lovely fruit/vegetable called pumpkin, maybe in the grocery store or in the market stall. However, if you havent seen or known the use of this plump fruit before, you have come to the right place to have a wider view on what pumpkin is. Lets just understand a little bit more about pumpkin fruit before deciding on what to prepare it into.
Pumpkin is the fruit I grew up seeing my grand mum cultivating very close to the house she lived in, but truth be told, I have never seen her prepared it and I didnt even think I will ever like a thing like that- even if she prepared it. The last time I went home, I could remember seeing her plucked the green leaves from the pumpkin plant to the market to be sold; and I then asked, what are you going to do with those large leaves in your hands? Her answers were; people prepare them as vegetable soup, I eat them too; the leaves are so nutritious and have a lot of health benefits. With this I had to answer her you peopleknow and eat every green vegetable that comes your way, are you people some kind of herbalists? She just gave me a good smile and said that is why we have a lot of blood because we know how important and healthy these vegetables are. With that I knew she knows better than me when it comes to the many uses of various vegetables because, she grows a lot them year in and year out. From the research I have carried out, I have come to know that my grand mama was right about this vegetable or fruit- pumpkin.
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Types of pumpkins
Pumpkins are from squash family and are usually used interchangeably with squash. Pumpkin fruits are widely grown all over the world; they come in different colours such as: orange, yellow, brown, ash, grey, green and red. Every part of this plant is edible; I confirm this, starting from the leaves, the orange pulp to the white seed. Their sizes are not the same all over the world; some could be very small, some medium, while some are so large weighing about 4-8kg, but this is dependent on the specie or the parent stock which they were gotten from.
Pumpkin could be found also in cans in most grocery stores, should in case you dont want to follow the long process of roasting and blending it, you can check any of your preferred stores for organic canned pumpkin- this will be faster to prepare without having to go through the long processes.
Pumpkin has many uses apart from being used as food. In some parts of the world, pumpkin is used for thanksgiving and for Halloween celebration also known as jack-o lantern. Also, there are numerous recipes one can prepare with pumpkin. For instance, pumpkin can be prepared into what is called:
- Pumpkin soup– This is a simple smooth pure made like custard or akamu (pap) after it hasbeencooked or roasted in the oven or pan. It is believed to be the simplest pumpkin recipe, because it can be prepare within 1 hour or less, after the pumpkin has been roasted, but if the pumpkin is just allowed to boil before it is prepared, it might just take about 40 minutes for the soup to be cooked. This soup is usually spiced with garlic, curry, onions, chicken or vegetable stock, carrots, pepper, salt and cream among other things. Also, it is often topped with parsley, sesame or sage leaves to add some colourful display of green to the soup. There are different recipes for pumpkin soup and a lot cream can be used such as coconut milk and other vegetables like carrots and potatoes can be blended with pumpkin to make the soup.
- Nigerian pumpkin soup (Miyan Taushe) – This is another type of soup made from pumpkin pulp. This soup is commonly prepared with assorted meat, local ingredients, ground groundnuts, habanero peppers, red bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and other ingredients. It is often topped with a tangy vegetable called sorrel (yakuwa) and baby spinach. This soup is deliciously rich, the more it sits on the stove, the more the flavour is being intensified and it is usually served with a starchy bolus (staple) Mashed Arborio rice (tuwo shinkafa) among other starchy foods.
- Pumpkin porridge– this is a thick porridge prepared by cooking pumpkin flesh and ground peanuts until it is soft and afterward, seasoned with salt, onions, pepper, and some other seasonings. This is done after the pumpkin has been cut into chunks and cooked.
- Pumpkin pie– this is a cake like food made by combining pumpkin pure with eggs and milk to whisk and then spiced with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt among other seasonings and finally baked in a pie crust for 1 hour before cutting it to serve.
Apart from the above pumpkinrecipes, there are other uses of pumpkin such as:
- Pumpkin candies.
- Pumpkin risotto.
- Pumpkin cakes.
- The pumpkin flavour is usually extracted and used for making beverages like beer and coffee.
- Pumpkins are usually blended alone or mix with other fruits, or honey/maple syrup to make breakfast smoothie.
- Pumpkin pure could be used to bake homemade bread.
- Pumpkin puree can be combined with coconut milk and cinnamon to make skin lotion.
- It can be used as DIY face mask formula- to enable smooth skin.
- The seeds can be roasted or baked like peanuts and served as snacks.
- Pumpkin seeds oil could serve as a substitute to sunflower oil.
- Another way to appreciate pumpkin is to make it into potato fries or chips just the same way you make crispy potato fries.
- According to Wikipedia, raw pumpkins are sometimes use in poultry feed to help boost egg production and the canned pumpkin serves a good dietary supplements for animals like cats and dogs who might be suffering from diarrhoea, hairballs or constipation.
Pumpkin Soup Recipes
This is what I will call a smooth and a creamy pumpkin soup which is totally different from the Nigerian pumpkin soup made with a lot of meat, it is one of the simplest recipes made from pumpkin pure and it requires just few ingredients which are listed below:
Ingredients for making pumpkin soup
- 500kg Pumpkin puree, canned or the pulp from the fruit pod,
- 2 Cups vegetable, beef or chicken broth
- 1 Cup whipped/sour cream or coconut milk (optional)
- 1 Teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 Pieces carrots, scraped and diced
- Maple syrup (optional)
- 3 Cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Medium onion, chopped
- teaspoon ground ginger
- Cup fresh parsley/coriander, finely chopped
- Teaspoon ground nutmeg
To make pumpkin soup, two options are to be considered
You can roast the pumpkin in the oven to get it soften before scooping the flesh from the pod. Raw pumpkin can be very hard to fetch out from the pod, roasting it makes it easier and softer to fetch out and also, roasting the pumpkin gives it a nutty flavour or smell instead of a raw flavour (though it is very mild).
- First and foremost, divide your big pumpkin fruit into two equal parts; try removing all the seeds and the strings out from both cut pumpkins maybe with a spoon. This will make it easy to roast rather than struggling to separate the seeds from the flesh after it has been cooked or further cut them into wedges and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over them and line them up side down in a baking sheet, turn on your oven to a temperature of about 350- 400oF. After it has been roasted, leave to cool before scooping out the pulp. This process usually makes the preparation of pumpkin soup a bit longer, because it can take about 30 to 50 minutes for the pumpkin to get roasted and become soften. Note: If you have a very large pumpkin, there would be no need of using the whole fruit for this dish; you can scoop some of the pure into the refrigerator to use for other things. However, if you have many people who stay around you and may be interested in this food, you can go ahead and make as much pumpkin soup as you want, provided you can finish it.
- If you do not have the time or the patience to roast pumpkin, just go ahead and peel off the hard shell and then cut the pumpkin into chunks; just the way you would have done to yam or paw-paw. After you have done this, add them into pot and cook with a little water or chicken stock until you can pierce through with a knife or fork.
How to make pumpkin soup (1st method)
- Going with the 1st option, start by frying onions, garlic and carrots in oil or butter, season with pepper, salt and nutmeg until they are soft and a bit browned.
- Add the fried vegetables plus the roasted pumpkin into a medium size pot and blend with either a hand blender or use a food processor to achieve this. Blend the pumpkin till very smooth, such that you cant feel the rough textures with your tongue.
- Pour the blended pumpkin into the pot and add your chicken broth into and stir to combine and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes on a low heat.
- Add cup of whipping cream, stir and leave on heat 5 minutes, taste for salt and pepper. You can add the cream after the pumpkin soup fully cooked.
- Dish into a serving plate and drizzle the remaining cream over it
- Chop fresh parsley and sprinkle over it and enjoy it while it is warm. You can substitute lettuce leaves for parsley or coriander if you want.
How to make pumpkin soup (2nd method)
- If you are going to use the 2nd option, just go ahead and peel your pumpkin, and then chop into chunks and keep aside, fry onions, garlic, and season with pepper and salt in a medium pot or pan, and add chicken broth or maybe a little water and stock cubes. Bring the cut pumpkin and carrot into the same pot and cook until it is soft.
- When the pumpkin is soft, leave to cool a bit before pureeing it in a blender the blending can be done in batches depending on the size of your blender.
- After blending the pumpkin, you can choose to pour it back into the pot and cook for 10 minutes stirring to warm it up a bit or just leave it like that.
- When you are ok with it, scoop into a plate drizzle in the sour cream or milk and then top with parsley/coriander/lentils and grated cheese.
Easy steps to make pumpkin soup
- Peel pumpkin and cut into smaller chunks and set aside, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and fry onions, garlic and ginger for 3 minutes, season with black or chilli pepper and salt to taste.
2. Add the pumpkins and the chopped carrots to the content and bring to a boil.
3. When the pumpkin is completely soft together with the carrots, bring it off from heat and blend in a blender until very smooth, but you can use a hand blender to blend the pumpkin directly in the pot if you have one.
4. Scoop the pumpkin into a serving dish and drizzle cream or milk over it and garnish with parsley or coriander and greated cheese and there youve got your easy pumpkin soup, enjoy it sweetness while it is hot.