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A few weekends ago, Nathan and I spent our Saturday at the Covered Bridge Ranch Pumpkin Patch, which was such a fun way to officially kick off our fall! This little pumpkin patch located in our town of Montrose had loads of activities and made for a great day of pumpkin picking. We ended up walking away with a nice selection of pumpkins and gourds to decorate our front porch, along with one very special pumpkin… a PIE PUMPKIN! I have never gotten one before, but was excited to take it home and see what I could cook up with it. Curious as to how I chose my pie pumpkin? Read on below for some tips on how to choose a pumpkin for cooking, along with my delicious recipe for Pumpkin Patch Soup!
How to Choose a Pumpkin for Cooking
Pie Pumpkins are much different than the typical carving pumpkins that are used for spooky front door decorations! Pie Pumpkins (also known as “sugar pumpkins”) are characterized by their sweet, smooth flesh that is perfect for pureeing and using in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or squash.
It can be a little bit overwhelming knowing where to start when looking for the best pie pumpkin! Here are my some tips that I learned when it comes to choosing the best pumpkin for cooking. Follow a few of these guidelines and you will surely be on your way to making some delicious soups, pies, and comfy, cozy fall recipes!
- Don’t go for the biggest pumpkin in the patch! Those large, nice looking pumpkins are actually quite flavorless and stringy. Choose a pumpkin between 4 and 8 pounds, or look to see if there is a sign at the pumpkin patch directing you to the “pie” or “sugar pumpkins.
- You don’t need to find the brightest pumpkin in the patch! Color doesn’t matter as much as quality. A more dull color is just an indicator that the pumpkin is aging. It will still taste sweet and delicious!
- Be sure to check the entire pumpkin for blemishes, bruises and cuts. This will help ensure that there is no rot occurring on the inside of your pumpkin.
Preparing Your Pie Pumpkin
Now for the fun part – Preparing the pumpkin to use for delicious meals!
You will need:
- One 3.5 to 4 lb “pie” or “sugar” pumpkin
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Baking pan
- Parchment paper to line the baking pan
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
Gather the items above and then follow these steps to roast your pumpkin!
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Cover your baking sheet with the parchment paper
- Give your pumpkin a nice rinse under some water to remove any dirt
- Cut about a 6 inch circle into the top of your pumpkin, pull off the top
- Using a spoon, remove the stringy membranes and seeds. Set aside in a colander to wash for later if you like to roast your seeds!
- Once the pumpkin is gutted, cut into fourths
- Rub olive oil all over the flesh of each quarter (I used about 1 TBSP per quarter)
- Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and pepper over each quarter
- Bake, flesh side down for about 45 minutes to an hour
- Once pumpkin is finished roasting, remove from oven and let cool
- Using a knife (or veggie peeler – I found the knife to be easier), remove the skin from each roasted quarter
- Cut flesh into 1 inch cubes and set aside for your soup!
After you complete the steps above, you should have around 9 cups or so of cubed pumpkin for your soup. If you have any leftover, you can freeze in the cube form or puree in a blender/food processor to store in the refrigerator or freezer for another recipe!
How to Make Pumpkin Patch Soup
Now that you have prepared your pie pumpkin, we are ready to start cooking up my Pumpkin Patch Soup! This is a velvety smooth, savory soup that will warm you from head to toe on a chilly fall day. Top with my buttery, homemade sourdough sage croutons and a dollop of sweet cream for a delicious supper that will surely fill your tummy!
Pumpkin Patch Soup
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 9 cups fresh, cubed pumpkin (OR 2 cans of pumpkin)
- 3 cans chicken broth (14 and 1/2 ounces each)
- 2 tbsp fresh, minced sage
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup 2% milk (or other milk of choice)
- 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 3 slices sourdough bread, cubed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 tbsp fresh, minced sage
For Pumpkin Soup
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion and carrots for 5 minutes
- Add the cubed pumpkin (or canned if using); cook for 5 – 6 more minutes
- Stir in chicken broth, fresh sage, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; bring to a boil
- Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender
- Cool slightly. Use a blender to process soup in batches, or use an immersion blender to blend directly in the pot
- Garnish soup with sweet cream and croutons and serve
For the Sweet Cream
- Using a fork or hand mixer, combine all ingredients until smooth
- Place bread in a small bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and butter
- Sprinkle with sage and toss to coat
- Transfer to a small skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted (about 6 – 8 minutes)
- Quick Version – If you are short on time, feel free to substitute the roasted pumpkin with two cans of pumpkin instead!
- Meat Version – To make this a bit more hearty, you can add in browned sausage once the soup is pureed (I like to use the Jimmy Dean Sage breakfast sausage – it is delish!)
- Substitute – You can also use roasted butternut squash in place of roasted pumpkin for a twist on the original recipe