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October 15, 2012

Recipe: Bewitched Pumpkin Soup with Witches’ Hat Crackers

Bewitched Pumpkin Soup

Haunted by ghastly menu ideas? There – what’s more Halloween than pumpkin soup baked in pumpkins and served with crackers shaped like witches hats? These babies are so easy to make we turned them into a cooking experiment for my 7-year old who gleefullly measured, spooned and filled the pumpkins before I put them in the oven. She was very excited about the mini pumpkins until they arrived on her plate, at which point she exclaimed – but Mom, I prefer kabocha squash pumpkin soup! So there, you had better check your own pumpkin preferences at home before you start since the recipe translates to any pumpkin variety.

For the record, I’d already tried a similar recipe called the baked pumpkin soup taken from The River Cottage Cookbook. It was excellent and the perfect cold-weather soup because of the richness and creaminess of the soup. I thought I’d try with smaller pumpkins just for the cuteness factor and though it’s not quite as good (a matter of flesh I think), it’s quite fun and looks great. Here is how we did it at home.

Photo gallery – click to enlarge: Steps 1 to 7 – pumpkin soup, Steps 8 to 13 – witches hat crackers

Ingredients per person – for the pumpkin soup

  •  1 mini pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyere or cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (liquid)
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg

Method

  • Preheat the oven at 350F.
  • Since I was doing the recipe with my 7-year old, she asked that I cut open and empty the pumpkins first. Fair enough, I get the tedious job, she gets the fun part. With a pumpkin carving knife, I cut off the top of the pumpkin and with a pumpkin carving scoop spoon (does that word exist?), I scraped out the seeds of the lid and the inside. I reserved the seeds to roast them later. If the mini pumpkin is very fleshy, you’ll notice that there is very little space inside for liquid. If you like your soup thick like a puree, don’t change a thing. If you prefer it on the liquid side, scoop out some more flesh until the cavity is large enough to hold a cup of liquid.
  • My little girl neatly arranged the 3 pumpkins in front of her and started by sprinkling the bottom of each pumpkin with grated cheddar. Then she poured the cream inside each pumpkin and gave each pumpkin a generous dash of cracked black pepper plus a dusting of nutmeg.
  • Last, she closed each pumpkin with the lid and voila! She handed off the 3 pumpkins and ran away to play.
  • I put the pumpkins on a baking sheet inside the oven and let them bake until the flesh was tender when pierced with a fork – roughly 40 minutes though this will depend on the type of pumpkin you choose. If you go for a bigger pumpkin, the rule of thumb is that you will have 1/3 of the cavity filled with cheese and you fill the rest with cream. I know, it sounds like a heart attack in the making but it’s all good.
  • When the pumpkins were baked, I served them directly on plates with the witches hat crackers. That’s when I realized I had pumpkin puree and not pumpkin soup but I liked it nonetheless. My girls, on the other hand, much preferred the witches’ hat crackers so let me tell you how to make those in a cinch.

Ingredients for witches hat crackers

  • 1 package of refrigerated roll-out pie crust (if you have a choice of savory or sweet, go for the savory)
  • 1/2 spice jar of sesame seeds
  • 2/3 spice jar of poppy seeds
  • Salt
  • Egg yolk + milk to make egg wash

Method

  • It’s super easy since you’re using pre-made dough. I just rolled out the crust in front of my 7-year old, keeping the parchment paper underneath to prevent a big old mess. I then told her to cut triangles with a pizza wheel. You can also use a sharp  knife, it works just as well.
  • Preheat the oven at 350F.
  • Once the triangles were cut, I let her sprinkle the sesame seeds everywhere. As in, everywhere.
  • We wanted to make sure the poppy seeds would adhere to the triangles so my 7-year old brushed the dough and sesame sees with the egg wash and a baking brush.
  • Once the dough was brushed all over, my 7-year old went wild on the poppy seeds and since she’d been so liberal in her endeavor  I had to help the poppy seeds cover the dough more thoroughly by tilting the parchment paper left and right until it looked evenly black.
  • Last, a sprinkling of salt. I took out my non-stick baking sheets.
  • All we needed to do now was to shape the witches hats. For each triangle, we pulled on one of the corners and bent it to give a “witch” look. Some were very convincing, others more flappy.
  • The crackers baked 10 to 15 minutes in the oven. Once their edges were golden, I took them out and let them cool.
  • Served with the pumpkin soup they were a delicious alternative to a dinner roll but they would fun stand-alone Halloween crackers too.

Boo!

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