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Creamy, Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Creamy, Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Turn October pumpkins into soup for a chilly November day. This simple recipe adds honey and cumin to roasted pumpkin puree for hearty soup. Top with toasted seeds for an added salty bite.

pumpkinsoup

Creamy pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds

Looking around the kitchen for something to cook, October’s pumpkin is sad and lonely, sitting on the kitchen counter. In the true spirit of fall, roast pumpkin soup is the perfect dinner for a chilly November evening. It’s a great supper for one, or an easy starter for dinner with guests.

Without the aid of cream or milk, this soup is silky, smooth all on its own. Honey or molasses adds sweetness to the pumpkin and a touch of cumin and cinnamon give it a spicy earthiness. A childhood favorite, toasted pumpkin seeds are a wonderful snack on their own, and add a salty, crunch when sprinkled on top of this soup.

Pumpkin soup, makes 4 servings
1 medium-sized pumpkin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt
black pepper
1 yellow onion
1 clove garlic
4 cups organic-unsalted vegetable stock(*or make your own)
2 stalks sage
1 tbsp honey or molasses

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cumin

* Make your own vegetable stock: Keep all your vegetable scraps in a container in the freezer. Every time you cut an onion, peel a carrot, or mince garlic, save the trimmings, peelings and shells. When you have a large amount of scraps, about 4-6 cups, make vegetable stock. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium low-heat in a heavy duty stock pot. Saute one medium-sized onion and two small carrots, small diced, until translucent and tender. Add the vegetable trimmings and fill the pot with water. Add any fresh herbs you have such as parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Cook for 45 minutes to extract the full flavor of the vegetables. Strain. Use for soups, sauces, and braising. To store, allow stock to cool completely and place in a air-tight container. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks or freeze for future use.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 F. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop the stringy insides out, throwing away the meat and placing the seeds into a colander placed in the sink. Cut the pumpkin halves into two pieces each and place onto a half sheet tray, covering with foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender.

2. While the pumpkin is roasting, rinse the seeds until all residue is removed. Place the seeds onto a second sheet tray and toss with the 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and cracked black pepper. Place on a second rack in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove, toss seeds around and back again for 5. Continue baking until seeds are golden brown, tossing every 5 minutes to prevent burning. Remove from oven when golden brown, and set aside to cool.

3. While the seeds and pumpkin is in the oven, cut the onion into 1/2-inch pieces. Remove the skin from the garlic and smash it with the heel of the knife.

4. When the pumpkin is tender, remove it from the oven. Working carefully, as the pumpkin will be very hot, scoop the meat from the pumpkin into a bowl, being careful not to include any skin pieces. Place aside.

5. Heat a medium size, heat duty stock pot over a medium-low flame. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, the onions, garlic, and sage. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions have become translucent, add the pumpkin meat and stir to combine. Add the vegetable stock.

6. Place a towel on your counter top and place your stock pot on top of the towel, removing it from the stove. Remove the sage. Using a hand-held stick blender, carefully puree soup until smooth and creamy, or working in batches, transfer soup into a blender and puree. Transfer back into pot and move pot back onto stove.

7. Add the honey, cumin, and cinnamon. Add a good handful of salt and a sprinkle of white pepper(be careful, it’s more potent than black pepper). Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if needed. Bring to a boil and pour into serving bowls. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

8. Cool soup completely before storing(if you don’t eat it all!). Store in sealed Tupperware in the refrigerator or freezer. Store pumpkin seeds in sealed Tupperware or plastic bag in a cool, dry place.

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Slow Food for fast Change

Slow Food for fast Change

This past Labor Day, Slow Food USA sponsored over 300 potluck eat-in’s in support of their Time for Lunch campaign, urging change in the school lunch system. According to the organization, a little change can go a long way.

One of the many eat-ins held this past Sepetember 7th, at Spiraling Orchard Park in Los Angeles.

One of the many eat-ins held this past Sepetember 7th, at Spiraling Orchard Park in Los Angeles.

With over 30 million children eating school lunches each day, Slow Food USA asserts that change cannot wait. Health-food advocates, environmentalist, and those concerned with the state of the National School Lunch Program rallied together this past Labor Day to support the group’s platform on the issue of what is served in school lunches. In parks, stores, homes, and community gardens across the nation, groups gathered for eat-in potlucks, asking attendees to sign the Time for Lunch petition and help make change happen now.

The main goal of the campaign, which was launched this past June 2009, is to convince Congress to allocate $1 more per student lunch, raising the reimbursement rate from $2.75 to $3.75. Other key objectives of the campaign include reducing the “junk” and “fast” food found in schools, gaining grants for school farm and garden programs, and establishing financial incentives for buying local products.

“It is time to give kids real food: food that tastes good, is good for them, is good for the people who grow and prepare it, and is good for the planet,” stated Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA.

The National School Lunch Program, which sets the standards for school lunches, falls under the Child Nutrition Act. The legislation is reauthorized every five years, and this year’s deadline is September 2009. During the 300 plus Labor Day potlucks, Slow Food USA acquired over 20,000 signatures online and 10,000 written signatures for it’s petition. Combined with the attention garnered from the eat-in’s, the group hopes to make Congress reform the standards of the current Child Nutrition Act.

The issues of child obesity and poor nutrition, which lead to health care issues of high -blood pressure and diabetes, support the debate for an increase in the quality of food that children are served. Slow Food USA hopes to develop standards for all food sold in schools, reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy products and promoting in them healthy habits.

To support these changes in school lunch system, go online and sign the petition, asking Congress for change. And, through the month of September, become a Slow Food USA member for a donation of any amount and join this group’s efforts for real food for children throughout the country.

View more picture’s of the Labor Day eat-in’s at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ tags/timeforlunch/.

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