Be Inspired Seasonally with Rita Calvert

Last week at my pumpkin demo during Homestead Garden's Fall Fest, I promised all of the tasters I would give the recipes this week in the blog. So here goes.


A pumpkin soup is terrific to serve in the fall whatever direction you decide to take it. When you understand the basics, you don’t need to follow a set recipe.

For the pumpkin soup foundation, you start with some chunks of precooked pumpkin cubes and half that amount of onions. The pumpkin and onion are cooked down to soften in oil or butter-it’s your choice. Apple, carrots or even pears can be cooked down along with the pumpkin. 

Step two involves a liquid-either vegetable or chicken broth and in this case, some apple cider. Add enough to cover the fruits and vegetables, topping  with an additional inch of liquid. Another decision: which spice or herb direction do you want? For a sweeter soup, you could add fresh ginger and finish the soup with coconut milk. For savory, how about the currently very popular, smoked paprika?

Now simmer down until everything is very tender. Let cool slightly and puree right in the soup pot with an immersion blender.

Again, your choice. Do you want it rich and creamy? Add about 1/2 cup heavy cream or even thick plain yogurt (making sure not to boil with yogurt). Now is the time to add that unsweetened coconut milk if you prefer to use that.

Toppings make the soup memorable. Think about a contrasting texture like crispy frizzled onions, fun rosemary mini crackers, or the seasoned and toasted pumpkin seeds as I’m showing in my recipe.



Smoked Apple and Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream and Sweet Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

 Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large onions, finely chopped (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 pounds pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled and cut into chunks (about 6 cups)
  • 2 large sweet apples, peeled and cut into chunks (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup apple juice (more if necessary)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cider Cream

  • Greek yogurt, plain
  • Apple cider

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (recipe below)

Heat oil and butter in large saucepan; add onions, bay leaf and chili powder; cook and stir until onions are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add pumpkin, apples, apple juice,  broth, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low heat until apples and squash are very soft, about 30 minutes. Cool.

Puree with an immersion blender or a food processor; return to saucepan.

Add additional apple juice or broth, if needed.

Garnish with Cider Cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds 

Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as a source of the mineral zinc, and the World and the World Health Organization recommends their consumption as a good way of obtaining this nutrient.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. 

Seed the pumpkin: Using a spoon, scrape the pulp and seeds out of your pumpkin into a bowl.


An example of how to effortlessly remove pumpkin seeds from pulp An example of how to effortlessly remove pumpkin seeds from pulp

Put the pumpkin seeds and pulp into a clean food zipper bag and remove the air. Tap gently with a meat pounder or even a 28-ounce can. This will separate the seeds from the pulp (and it’s fun)! Now using a fork, pull the seeds away from most of the pulp, but a bit remaining is no problem.

Dry them: Spread the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes to dry them out.

Season them: Now for most seasonings to stick, you’ll need a little “glue” and that comes in the form of oil or melted butter. Toss first with melted butter or oil and then toss a bit of salt and spices. Return to oven to roast for another 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Pumpkin pie- Toss with cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and sugar or pumpkin pie spice blended with sugar.

Indian-Toss with garam masala; mix with currants after roasting.

Spanish-Toss with smoked paprika; mix with slivered almonds after roasting.

Italian-Toss with grated parmesan and dried oregano.

Barbecue-Toss with brown sugar, chipotle chile powder and ground cumin.


Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies

makes 6 dozen cookies

I shaped my cookies differently by spreading the dough completely in a baking pan with low sides. First line the baking sheet pan with parchment and grease that. After the cookies are baked and then cooled slightly, you lift them out to a flat surface and cut into short fingers. This way you can make delectable cookie bites quickly.

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (about 1 3/4 cups fresh)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract; beat until smooth.

Mix flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; stir into creamed butter until combined. Fold chocolate chips into batter. Drop 1 to 2 tablespoons batter for each cookie onto a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until the edges of each cookie are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. If making a baking pan of the recipe, bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center feels firm. Follow the intro directions (above) after removing from the oven.

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