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Sweet Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Honey (and a touch of Terra Madre)

No, the picture below isn’t a pumpkin dessert. It’s Vandana Shiva, eco-feminist, author of the remarkable Stolen Harvest, champion of the small farmer and opponent of corporate owned seeds. I snapped this before she spoke magnificently at Slow Food’s Terra Madre, where I was a US delegate in Torino, Italy last week. More about Terra Madre below, and much more to follow in the next few months.

The Recipe

Lift the pumpkin’s lid to the fragrance of brandied apples with honey and spices inside. Scoop out the pumpkin to serve with the warm apples, topped with local ice cream and sugar-roasted pumpkin seeds. Local pumpkins, apples and honey — you’ll know it’s fall.

The recipe was adapted from chef and neighbor Ruth Bronz’s Thanksgiving dessert that I submitted as a dessert soup when working on the Joy of Cooking. It’s autumnal, fun and not the same old thing. Serves 4 to 6 dessert servings

1-3/4 to 2 pound sugar (pie) pumpkin
2 pounds tart apples, peeled and cut in a small dice
8 dried apricots, cut in quarters
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 generous pinch ground cloves
1-1/2 cups apple cider
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

1-Preheat oven to 375°. Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin. Remove the top and scoop out the seeds. Thoroughly scrape out the pumpkin, removing any pulp. Set the pumpkin and its top aside.

2- Toss the apples, apricots, honey, brandy, raisons, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together.

3-Fill the pumpkin with the spiced apples and pour in the cider. Replace the lid, and set the pumpkin on a glass pie plate (or cooking sheet) filled up to 1/2 inch with water. Bake until the apples and pumpkin are thoroughly cooked, about 1 hour.

4- Serve in wide bowls. Ladle some of the spiced apples into each bowl. Spoon some of the pumpkin onto the apples, and top with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.  If you like, sprinkled with the sweetened seeds (see note below.)

Pumpkin seed garnish option:When you scrape out the pumpkin, save the seeds. Rinse and remove most of the fibrous pulp. Dry and toss in a touch of vegetable oil and sugar just to coat lightly. Toast on parchment paper or a non-stick pan in a single layer until crisp, about 30 minutes.

Terra Madre

Still recovering! I just spent a 5 terrific days in Torino, Italy as a US delegate at Slow Food’s international Terra Madre. Terra Madre is kind of sustainable food and farming UN with 5,000 delegates from 160 countries.

Over the next few months I’ll have tasty news with links to activists and producers. For now, suffice it to say that one night I dined with about 15 farmers, cooks and food activists from the USA and Italy, including a honey producer from the Dolomites, a school garden coordinator for Tuscany and a CSA meat farmer from Iowa. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks to Slow Food and our gracious Italian hosts!

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