Not Just Jack-o'-lanterns: Chef Tells What to Do with Your Pumpkin Patch Pickings

Not Just Jack-o'-lanterns: Chef Tells What to Do with Your Pumpkin Patch Pickings
pumpkin

pumpkin

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

For stock:

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.


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apples (Photo by Courtney St. Onge)
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