"Who is the idiot that would put a REAL PUMPKIN on their kid’s head for a Halloween costume?" Picture it: a big beach ball-size jack-o'-lantern on the skinny shoulders of a second-grader with a motorcycle jacket, but no shirt on, wobbling like a blindfolded drunk as he tries to keep in line with the ninjas and the Tinkerbells in the school parade. The knot of Good Mommies standing on the sidelines whisper their outrage to each other as the pumpkin head careens past.
"Honey, you look great," I call out to the grimacing squash. I may be an idiot, but my son is oblivious to the Good Mommies' concern, and for the 15 minutes he has his head inside a moist helmet of pumpkin flesh, he feels fierce.
Naturally, the soup we make later is called Pumpkinhead Soup. And in the intervening 12 years since Henry inhabited his pumpkin, we have perfected it. Small sugar pumpkins, the little ones available in early fall, are the best. But without a trick-or-treater in the house this year, I made the version pictured here with butternut squash and it tastes pretty great. Be sure to save the seeds to roast and use as a topping if you can keep from devouring them all straight from the pan.
- 4 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash (about 2 squash)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 shallots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large apple, chopped
- 1½ tablespoon hot curry powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ½ lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil, as needed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel and cube the squash, saving seeds.
- Wash squash seeds, dry thoroughly, and roast in a pan with a splash of oil, a little salt and a shake of curry powder, until crisp.
- Toss squash cubes with olive oil to coat, salt to taste, and roast until soft.
- While squash is roasting, sauté shallots and garlic in a splash of oil until fragrant, add curry powder and ginger and stir until you can smell them strongly. Add apple and cook until soft, and reserve.
- When squash is cooked, soft enough to poke through with a fork with no resistance, purée it in a blender. Add the apple mixture, chicken broth, mustard, lemon, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth.
- Adjust seasoning to taste. Reheat and sprinkle with seeds.