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Fall-ing for Pumpkin Recipes

Photo credit © pixelliebe @ 123rf.com

Leaves are turning bright red, fiery orange and earthy ochre, then slowly drifting to the ground in crunchy piles. The air is changing – you can feel a whisper of the chilly days to follow but for now, the warmth of the sun still filters through, buttery and golden. We’re pulling out the thick wool sweaters and opening the windows at night for the cool breeze that makes for such good sleeping. And the pumpkins – those cheerful harbingers of fall – are abundant at farm stands and on front porches.

This fall, instead of just carving jack-o’-lanterns, we’re going to cook up those pumpkins into savory dishes. Recipes below include our favorite creamy, spicy and vegan pumpkin soup recipes made with Vervana flavored olive oils and spice blends, plus a roasted pumpkin side dish with balsamic vinegar for a caramelized finish. Try them, and you just may find that these pumpkin recipes become your fall traditions too, and may even find their place in a regular rotation at your dinner table!

How to Make Pumpkin Soup

If you’ve ever wondered how to make pumpkin soup, it’s actually quite easy. You can take the homemade route of roasting and blending fresh pumpkin yourself, just like you would to make butternut squash soup, or you can simply use canned pumpkin purée – just make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filling, which is full of sugar and other ingredients we don’t need for these pumpkin soup recipes!

There are a few ways to prepare fresh pumpkin puree. To roast it, slice the pumpkin in half (or quarters, depending on its size), and place it face down in a glass pan filled with ½ to 1 inch of water. You can scoop out the seeds and roast them separately for a yummy snack or soup garnish (see below), or leave them in and discard them later.

Bake the pumpkin at 375 degrees F for 40 to 60 minutes (or until you can easily slice a knife through it). When the steamed pumpkin flesh is cool enough to handle, remove the remaining seeds and stringy parts, then scoop out the fleshy pulp into a bowl with a large spoon or peel the cooked skin off.  Alternately, you can peel, de-seed and slice the raw pumpkin into cubes, then steam or boil it on the stove until tender (as in our balsamic roasted pumpkin recipe below). Whichever way you cook the pumpkin, set the puree aside until ready to add to your soup.

As for the seeds, toss them in olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and bake them at 300 degrees F for 15 min on each side. Add a little Mexican Seasoning Blend for more kick. Delicious for healthy snacking, pumpkin seeds are also the perfect pumpkin soup garnish.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup Recipe

  • 2-4 Tbsp olive oil (EVOO or flavored: jalapeño garlic or garlic)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, chopped (if not using a garlic flavored olive oil)
  • 1-2 cups chopped or shredded carrots
  • 2-4 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1-4 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2-4 tsp Mexican Seasoning Blend
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • Natural Salt and Pepper Blends, to taste
  • Jalapeño-Garlic Olive Oil
  • Optional: 1-2 cups pureed acorn or butternut squash
  • Optional: 1-2 cups white beans

In a large saucepan, sauté the chopped onion, garlic and carrots in olive oil over med-low heat until the onion is translucent. Stir in the pumpkin (and optional squash and/or white beans) and mix well. Transfer in batches to a blender and add enough chicken or veggie broth to blend. When all is pureed and transferred back to the saucepan, and more broth until you reach desired consistency. Simmer on med-low heat for 20 min, and season to taste with Mexican Seasoning Blend, honey, and a little salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle into individual bowls and finish with a generous drizzle of Jalapeño-Garlic Olive Oil. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup Recipe

  •  2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 c. chopped onion
  •  2 c. pumpkin purée
  •  1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
  •  1/2 c. organic heavy cream
  •  2 tbsp. honey
  •  Natural Salt Blend
  •  Freshly ground Pepper & Juniper Blend

In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil then sauté garlic and onions for 3 to 4 minutes until soft. Stir in pumpkin purée, broth and honey, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Add the organic cream, stirring well to combine, then turn off heat then cover with lid and keep warm until serving. Ladle into individual bowls, then garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Vegan Pumpkin Soup Recipe

  •  2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 c. chopped onion
  •  2 c. pumpkin purée
  •  1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
  •  1/2 c. coconut cream or canned coconut milk
  •  Natural Salt Blend
  •  Freshly ground Pepper & Juniper Blend
  • Optional: Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil as a finish.

In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil then sauté garlic and onions for 3 to 4 minutes until soft. Stir in pumpkin purée and veggie broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Add coconut cream or milk, then season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine, turn off heat then cover with lid and keep warm until serving. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds to add texture and flavor when serving. For an extra kick of spicy flavor, finish with a drizzle of Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil.

Now, for something completely different, let’s make a delectably sweet and earthy roasted pumpkin recipe that’s easier than you think! Pumpkins can be peeled with a regular veggie peeler and after you clean out the insides, they’re easy to slice into cubes needed for this recipe.  And as with the pumpkin soup recipes above, you can also substitute butternut squash for pumpkin in this recipe.

Roasted Pumpkin with Fig Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Roasted Pumpkin Recipe

barrel-aged balsamic vinegar - organic balsamic vinegar and fig balsamic vinegar
Vervana Balsamic Vinegars

Peel and slice pumpkin into 1 inch cubes. In a large pan over medium-low heat, cook the cubed pumpkin in olive oil. Season with natural salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add fig balsamic vinegar and briefly bring to a simmer. Immediately remove from heat, transfer pumpkin to a glass baking dish and roast it for 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees until very tender and caramelized.

This pumpkin recipe makes an excellent side dish for roasted chicken or turkey, and can even be tasty filling for homemade ravioli.

The Scoop On Pumpkins

From tiny mini-pumpkins to the giant varieties showcased at fall fairs and festivals, pumpkins are members of the squash family, cousins to varieties like butternut and acorn squash. Like these, pumpkin has a creamy flesh with a core of many seeds.

Interestingly enough, pumpkins are grown on every continent in the world, though the U.S. is one of the major pumpkin producers. Pumpkins are freshly harvested in the fall, but they’re also available in canned and frozen form, so you can enjoy their flavor and nutritional benefits all year round, in recipes ranging from soup to sauces.

Like other squashes, pumpkin alone is relatively bland. The bright side of blandness, of course, is versatility – you can dress up pumpkin with all sorts of sweet, spicy or savory seasonings. Creativity is key when sticking to a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet like my PAMM diet, and that’s why I created my signature line of spice blends and also offer 6 kinds of flavored olive oil at Vervana.

While we know they’re delicious, let’s find out why it’s such a treat for the body when we eat this festive squash… Most people only eat pumpkin when it’s in pie or bread, but as we saw in the pumpkin soup recipes and roasted pumpkin recipe above, it’s much more versatile than only using to make sweets.

Why Are Pumpkins So Healthy?

Well, like carrots, yams and butternut squash, they are orange in color, which means that they are rich in antioxidants called carotenoids, specifically beta carotene. As natural plant pigments, carotenoids also give yellow and red fruits and veggies their vibrant colors. Tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, all contain a powerful health-protective carotenoid called lycopene (which is one reason I love eating marinara sauce). Beta carotene – the carotenoid in pumpkin – is a VIP (very important phytonutrient) because it helps boost the immune system and helps prevent free radicals from wreaking havoc throughout the body. The key to reaping the benefits of beta carotene in pumpkin is to always consume it with some kind of fat, preferably a healthy fat like olive oil. Like other beta-carotene-rich veggies, pumpkins are also high in fiber and full of essential vitamins including C, E and the B vitamin group, and minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

Pumpkin seeds also make a great nutritional snack, since they’re packed with antioxidant compounds called phytosterols, along with healthy fats and vital minerals that help:

  • Support the heart and cardiovascular system
  • Lower risk of Type II diabetes
  • Reduce levels of inflammation throughout the body
  • Improve immune responses

After reading this, how could you not save and roast the seeds after carving that pumpkin, or just start buying pumpkins to cook them?

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