Last weekend, my family and I visited a pow-wow in Stone Mountain, GA. There, a woman was making soup inside of a pumpkin beside the campfire. Let’s just say I was inspired. I came home and started researching soup recipes and perfecting my campfire building skills. All of my laundry now smells like charred wood. I did finally find a soup recipe that I thought would work well with a little tweaking. It is the Soup in a Pumpkin recipe from the lovely ladies at What We’re Eating. Here is my version (with some tweaking):
1 sprig rosemary
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2″ piece ginger, sliced
3 sage leaves
3 mint leaves
1 medium-large pumpkin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp brown sugar
5 c. chicken stock
1 lg parsnip
1 lg russet potato
1 yellow onion
1 stalk celery
1 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt t.t.
Black Pepper t.t.
First, you want to assemble your herb bundle. Cut a piece of cheese cloth large enough to wrap around the herbs twice. Lay the sprigs of rosemary, sage leaves and mint leaves on the cheese cloth.
Garlic and ginger do not need to be peeled. Slice the ginger into thin slices with your knife and add to the herb bundle. Smash each clove of garlic by placing it under the widest point of the knife and hitting it with your fist.
Repeat for the second garlic clove and add to the herb bundle.
Wrap the cheese cloth around the herbs and secure with butcher’s twine. Set aside.
Next you will need to cut the top off of the pumpkin (like when carving it for Halloween) and clean out the seeds.
An added bonus to making this soup is roasted pumpkin seeds. You can use them to garnish the soup or snack on while the soup is cooking. I ate my fair share (they taste like popcorn), but I’m also going to save some to make pumpkin seed trail mix.
To make roasted pumpkin seeds, clean the seeds and remove them from the pulp.
Toss with olive oil and Kosher salt. Lay out on a foil lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes or until a light golden brown. Use a spatula to turn over about half way through cooking time. I let them cool on the baking sheet. They get crisp as they cool.
Back to my soup…
Now, my reenactor friends will probably tell you that I should have started the fire before I set the pumpkin out there. I didn’t really want to get burned, so we’re doing this my way.
Trust me, there are lots of better ways to do this. Most of them probably involve electricity.
For the campfire method, you don’t want your pumpkin directly in the fire or the coals. Set it up just outside of the fire.
You’ll have to watch the pumpkin and keep it turned to make sure it cooks evenly. Plus, the temperature of the fire can fluctuate and you’ll need to keep feeding it wood throughout the day (did I mention this is an all day process), so don’t plan on wandering too far away from your campfire.
For those of you who aren’t as crazy as I am, you can also cook your soup and pumpkin in the oven on 375 for 1-2 hours.
I did end up having to finish my soup in the oven because after 4 hours by the campfire, the pumpkin still wasn’t soft. Darn if electricity doesn’t just make life easier. It still took an hour.
Of course, the time will also vary by type and size of the pumpkin.
Whisk the cinnamon, allspice and brown sugar into the chicken stock and pour into the pumpkin.
Add the herb bundle, making sure the bundle is submerged in the liquid.
Cover with the top of the pumpkin.
Start the fire, but keep it small so you don’t scorch the pumpkin.
Doesn’t that just look cozy? I love fire. Just ask my family. On second thought, don’t ask my family…
Rough chop your vegetables into 1 inch pieces. I cut mine smaller because I thought I was going to do this as a broth soup, then I realized this really does work better as a pureed soup.
Moral of the story: it doesn’t matter what size you cut them into as long as they are uniform so they cook evenly.
Toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet.
Roast in the oven on 375 for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are a golden brown and tender. Turn with a spatula about half way through cooking time.
The woman at the pow-wow was cooking her vegetables on a stone over the fire. I really want one of those stones.
Add the vegetables to the soup inside of the pumpkin.
For the rest of the day, you tend the fire, watch the soup and turn the pumpkin.
As I said before, I let it cook for 4 hours, then finally finished it in the oven for an hour at 375. By that point the pumpkin was tender and scooped out easily with a metal spoon.
Using a ladle, I scooped the liquid out of the pumpkin and into the blender. (Be careful lifting the pumpkin, especially after it comes out of the oven. The bottom is very tender and may leak.)
Then I used the metal spoon to scoop the pumpkin into the blender. Blend the soup until it is very smooth.
It should not resemble baby food. If it does, thin it with some more chicken stock.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This is a great autumn or winter soup to warm you up. Henry loved it so you know it must be good. Even my husband went back for seconds.
And you want to know the best part about cooking on a campfire? Smores!