The early American home came with but one oven: the fireplace and the typically rocky protuberance thereof known as the hearth. What few pots the cook possessed would be placed either over the fire, in front of it or right down in the dying embers. (Curing was done in the chimney, but that required hooks rather than pots so it doesn’t count here.) Now, back in those colonial times “pies” were typically dishes that cooked inside a temporary vessel made of dough. The resulting crust was meant for containment rather than consumption and was so hard and flavorless that even the pigs shied from them. Now let’s consider the pumpkin. It can be hollowed out, filled with goodness and parked by the fire to slowly simmer. The gourd is tough enough to hold whatever is in it, yet unlike crusts or “coffins” as they were called, the pumpkin’s inner flesh cooks during the process bringing flavor and nutrients to the party. Thus, pumpkin “pies” were born and I offer this version to honor that tradition. Is it what most of us think of as a pie? No. Is it delicious? Heck yeah it is. And you can compost the pot when you’re done.
Whole Pumpkin Pie Soup
- 1 whole baking pumpkin (about 4 pounds, rinsed)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 small yellow onion (diced)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 small apple (peeled, cored and diced)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Make a lid from the top of the pumpkin by cutting around the stem at a 45-degree angle. Make sure the opening is large enough to work within. Remove the seeds and fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Reserve the seeds for another use if you like. Brush the exterior of the pumpkin and lid with oil. Oil a round casserole dish large enough to hold the pumpkin and put the pumpkin inside.
- Combine the butter, onion, salt, garlic, apple, broth and cream in the hollow pumpkin. Replace the lid of the pumpkin to cover. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove the lid. Carefully stir in the cheese and thyme and bake for an additional 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and use a large metal spoon to gently scrape some of the inner flesh off the walls and into the soup. Puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency, being careful to avoid the sides and bottom of the pumpkin. Serve immediately…that’s right, inside the pumpkin.