Not Just Jack-o'-lanterns: Chef Tells What to Do with Your Pumpkin Patch Pickings
The fun of fall is approaching as temperatures cool and leaves turn in the Carolinas.
For many Charlotte families, picking a pumpkin at a local farm is an annual fall tradition, and we’ve got tips for choosing a good gourd.
But what are you going to do with those great pumpkins you bring home?
Chef Robert Brener, an associate professor of culinary arts at highly rated Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, says don’t waste your pumpkin harvest on just a jack-o'-lantern carving.
Carve out some delicious fall flavors with this Smoked Pumpkin Bisque recipe from Brener, whose institution offers popular recreational cooking classes each season:
Smoked Pumpkin Bisque
• 5 pounds pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 3 yellow onions, chopped
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
• 1 smoked ham hock
• 3 celery ribs
• 3 carrots
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 2/3 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
• Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Combine stock, celery, carrot, 1 onion and ham hock. Bring to simmer and allow to cook for 3 hours. This step can be done the day before or earlier and frozen.
For soup base:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss pumpkin, onions and thyme in oil and spread mixture onto 1 or 2 large baking sheets. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 to 30 minutes until tender, stirring once or twice.
Remove from oven and transfer to a large pot. Add broth, wine and cardamom and simmer for 10 minutes.
Carefully working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, then transfer back to pot. When ready to serve, bring soup back to a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in cream. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.
Charlotte-area pumpkin farms
Hungry yet? Here are some local farms ready for you to come and choose a pumpkin, take a hay ride or try a corn maze.
- Hall Family Farm, 10713 Providence Road West, Matthews
- Hodges Farm, 3900 Rocky River Road, Charlotte
- Carrigan Farms, 1261 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville
- Aw Shucks! Corn Maze, 3718 Plyler Mill Road, Monroe
- The Hunter Farm, 13624 Providence Road, Weddington
- Riverbend Farm, 12150 McManus Road, Midland
- Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill, 1860 Black Highway, York, S.C.
- Red Wolf Farm, 1797 Water Plant Road, Maiden
- Lewis Farm Harvest Festival, 330 Lewis Road, Gastonia