This is really a summer squash recipe, not a pumpkin recipe, but summer squash are ideally harvested when they are small and tender, and the reality of gardening is that no matter how diligent you are at picking, eventually you will find monster squash on your hands! Blimp-like zucchinis, and yellow squash that can only be described as a “pumpkin”, and really they are best treated as such. This soup is equally good made with over-large zucchini, or gigantic yellow squash. With basil and a hint of tomatoes, it tastes of summer.
Part of gardening is dealing with imperfect produce. One of the things I had to get used to as a home gardener was to be comfortable and creative with non-perfect produce. Whether you obtain your vegetables at a farmer’s market, a CSA, or a store, a lot of effort, chemicals, and waste goes into providing beautiful, perfect, market-competitive produce. And this is also why I am strictly a home gardener, rather than a market gardener.
Friends ask me all the time, when they see the coffee table groaning under the tomato harvest, or all the shelves full to bursting with pumpkins, why we don’t sell the extras. And the answer is simply that market gardening and home gardening are two very, very different things that must be approached in different ways, and I prefer home gardening.
I once put a lot of effort into bringing my extra vegetables to a farmer’s market, sold absolutely nothing, and made a loss of a whole day and the $5 set-up fee! The experience made me realize the difference between the two. Market gardening is SO much more than just growing vegetables! You have to WOW the customer. You have to have the earliest possible start on the season, and offer eye-catching, perfect produce. And some of that comes with a cost – you have to use sprays and gas-powered machinery. “Organic” sprays, like pyrethrins and Bt, perhaps, but still chemicals with the intent to kill. You have to have serious cold-protection systems and expensive heat-able greenhouses.
As a home gardener, I don’t have to push the seasons, and I enjoy a longer harvesting season. Long after the local CSA’s have ceased to serve up bags of produce, I am still pulling huge harvests out of the garden every few days. Eating vegetables that have to be carefully cold-protected, to me, is not eating in season. I like to eat what is thriving, not what needs sheltered to get the earliest start on the market. I also have the luxury of gardening without ANY chemicals, because I garden on a small enough scale to hand-pick pests, or companion plant and other non-chemical ways of discouraging pests. I can experiment with different varieties and see what I like (rather than what the customer likes). I get to eat unusual things that would never appeal to the unknowing customer, like the leafy parts of sweet potatos, amaranth, and roselle. Best of all, I can enjoy my imperfect produce, and glorify it with that unappreciated virtue, Thrift, which is, in essence, the secret of True Wealth!
So if you also find yourself with shocking squash on your hands this time of year, don’t despair! They are indeed good for something other than interesting vegetable displays.
Summer Pumpkin Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, sliced
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2-3 peppers, seeded and sliced (sweet or spicy, your choice)
3 over-grown summer squash (or 1 very large zucchini)
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 quart broth or water
1-2 sprigs of basil
Salt and pepper
- Prepare the summer squash like a pumpkin – peel the skin, and slice it in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Cut it into quarters, and from there slice it into chunks.
- In a soup pot, melt the butter and add the onion to gently sautée until it is clear.
- Add the diced tomatoes and peppers and fry, stirring occasionally, to let the tomatoes cook down and caramelize a little.
- Now add the summer squash and diced, peeled potatoes, and broth or water. Season with salt and pepper, and chopped basil. Cover with a lid, and leave to cook gently until the vegetables are soft.
- Blend the soup, and serve immediately, with fresh sliced basil and black pepper as a garnish.