Monday October 26th, 2009 in Home Cooking
, Party Food
The summer I turned 12, we took a big family trip to visit relatives in Washington D.C. It was a big trip both in the distance traveled- we lived on the West Coast and typically didn’t travel out of the region, and in the duration- we stayed for two weeks. My memories of the time spent in D.C. are surprisingly vivid, and are not surprisingly filled with lots of food.
One of my favorite stops on the trip was in the historical town of Williamsburg. I watched with fascination as a blacksmith pounded horse shoes with sparks flying and a cooper shaped long boards into barrels. Walking around a costumed historical village was almost like living in a novel- I loved it! While in Williamsburg, I purchased two books- Entertaining Ideas from Williamsburg and Christmas Decorations from Williamsburg. Filled with pictures of the decorated houses and traditional recipes, they added illustration to my fanciful day dreams of living in a historical village. (And yes, at 12 years old I was already a total cooking and decorating geek!)
Now many, many years later I still enjoy looking through these books and satisfying my inner Martha Stewart tendencies while reminiscing about our trip. One photo that has always enticed my creative side is a beautiful pumpkin encircled by fall flowers and filled with a savory squash soup. This fall I decided that I needed to stop day dreaming and just get in there and do it! So I tracked down the supplies and ingredients, set aside a few hours, and got busy.
The process is simple, requiring only a knife, bowl, scissors, and a metal skewer. First you wash the pumpkin’s exterior and cut a large opening in the top. Next you clean out the inside of the pumpkin using a spoon to scrape out the seeds and membrane.
Finally, you poke holes into the edge of the pumpkin using the skewer and stick the stems of flowers and leaves into the holes to create a floral wreath around the outside of the pumpkin.
Once the pumpkin is finished, you can fill it with hot soup and serve the soup directly from the tureen. This would make a lovely centerpiece for a fall buffet, or could even be adapted using small pumpkins to create personal ‘bowls’.
I wasn’t crazy about the flavor of the squash soup recipe which accompanied the tureen instructions, and instead would recommend making my favorite butternut squash and parmesan soup
to fill the tureen. The flowers will start to look droopy after about 4-5 hours, so be sure to assemble the tureen shortly before filling it with the soup and serving the meal.
Oh and a final note- It can be rather difficult to estimate the right size pumpkin for the quantity of soup. I’d recommend erring on the smaller side, knowing that you can always add more soup if needed.
1 medium pumpkin, rinsed and dried
1 large assortment of flowers, leaves, and berries
Large metal spoon
Metal skewer (or another sharp, pointy metal object)
Spread newspaper on the floor to make cleanup easier. Using the sharp knife, carefully cut a big circle around the top of the pumpkin. Remove the circle, creating an opening. Use the metal spoon to scoop out all seeds and scrape out any membrane inside the pumpkin, placing them into the large bowl. Discard or reserve seeds for another use.
Next use the skewer to poke a hole into the side of the pumpkin. You will want to stay about 1/2″ below the opening, which will help keep the foliage from falling into the soup if bumped. Cut the stem of a flower to equal the depth of your skewered hole (about 1/2″) and carefully push the stem into the hole. Repeat this process around the edge of the pumpkin, creating a pleasing pattern with the foliage.
Once finished, set the pumpkin on a plate or flat surface that can be cleaned in case the soup leaks a little bit (this happened with mine). Fill the pumpkin tureen with a piping hot soup and serve.