Cook a soup for the season inside a pumpkin

It was an orange-and-red sort of day in the bright October sunshine, and my thoughts had turned to pumpkins. A variety of pumpkins displayed at my local grocery store led me to choose a Cinderella pumpkin for my adventure in the kitchen.

After being introduced to it some years ago by farmer Larry Klco of Rainbow Farms in Perry Township, I soon agreed with him that it’s not only one of the tastiest of autumn’s pumpkins but also the prettiest. One look and it’s easy to understand its name: It looks like Cinderella’s pumpkin coach in the old fairytale.

I turned to my favorite pumpkin cookbook, “Pumpkin, a Superfood for All 12 Months of the Year,” for inspiration and found recipes using ginger, lime juice, nutmeg, beer, carrots, corn and split peas, along with canned pumpkin or pumpkin that had been cut into chunks before cooking. But rather than destroy its beauty by cutting it up, I wanted to use my Cinderella pumpkin as the container for the soup.

So it was Jacques Pepin, one of my favorite cookbook authors for simple preparations, who inspired me with a pumpkin soup created in his native Lyon — the food capital of France. I became an even greater Pepin fan in February on a cruise with Oceania Cruises, for which he is the culinary director. My ship, the Marina, had Jacques, a wonderful French restaurant named after Pepin where my daughter and I had some of the best meals of our lives. It was among the ship’s five restaurants and certainly at least part of the reason the cruise line is known for its fine food.

Pepin’s soup was cooked and served in the pumpkin — just what I wanted. He details it in a video at, and my soup is adapted from his recipe.

Once it was cut to remove its top and the pumpkin seeds cleaned out, the pumpkin was placed on a sheet pan with sides (in case it leaked).

After slicing off the top of the pumpkin, scrape the seeds and stringy flesh from its insides.

Two and half cups of chicken broth were poured into the pumpkin’s cavity, the top was placed back on and it was placed in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

After cooling the pumpkin enough to handle, I poured the broth into a soup pot and scooped out the roasted pumpkin flesh to mash into the broth as it was heated on top of the stove. I added salt and pepper to taste and a teaspoon each of chopped ginger and garlic plus a half-teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg.

After adding a little more chicken broth, three-fourths cup cream and one-half cup shredded Swiss cheese, I heated the mixture and used my immersion blender to make it smooth.

I dished it into bowls, topped each with a little more shredded cheese and a sprinkling of chives. It would also be good with a dollop of creme fraiche on top.

It was simply delicious.

The soup, emulsified after cream, ginger and chicken broth are added, is served with a little shredded Swiss cheese and topped with chopped chives.