When Life Gives You Pumpkins…


Have you ever heard the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?  I’m sure you have!  This common phrase reminds people to have a positive attitude in the face of adversity, by making the best of a bad situation.  It’s great advice!

Well, Mr. Tako has a different version of this ancient phrase that’s just as useful:  “When life gives you pumpkins, make pumpkin soup!”

My version has an entirely different meaning too:  Make use of life’s abundance even when it goes unappreciated by others.

 

Pumpkin Madness

What is it about this time of year that brings out the pumpkin craziness in everyone?

Every year when the calendar ticks over to October, pumpkins suddenly start popping up everywhere!  Jack-o-lanterns, Pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies….see a theme here yet?

Around this time of year pumpkins get put into everything!  According to Wikipedia, the United States produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins every year.

Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkins are surprisingly abundant this time of year.

I love it when food is seasonal and the Earth’s bounty is put to good use.  Pumpkins are plentiful and cheap this time of year….but the strange thing is: Nobody actually cooks with pumpkin anymore.  They would rather buy a pumpkin-spice latte at Starbucks, or purchase a pumpkin pie from Costco.

If you find someone who actually still makes homemade pumpkin pie, they typically use blended pumpkin from a can.  I shit you not.  It’s shameful.

To make matters worse, there’s one more thing irks me to no end:  Pumpkins are so plentiful and cheap that people literally set them outside as decorations and let them rot.  Yes, intentional food waste!

hangover
All those wasted pumpkins make me sick!

Perfectly good food is placed outside on purpose, let rot, and later thrown in the trash bin a month later.  Talk about a waste!

 

Mr. Tako’s Stolen Pumpkin Thai Curry Soup

Today we’re going to use some of that annual pumpkin bounty, and make Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup!

In protest of my neighbor’s disgusting annual waste of wealth and resources, I decided to swipe a pumpkin from his yard and use it for my blog post.  He was just going to chuck them into the trash-bin anyway.

pumpkin patch
My neighbor with his excessive display of waste. He’s clearly not going to be cooking these.  They’ll get tossed in the trash.  I’m going to appropriate one for my pumpkin soup!

Seriously, the guy has over 30 pumpkins in his yard.  I couldn’t even fit them all the photo.  Odds are, he won’t even notice one missing…

After collecting our pumpkin, the first thing we need to do is break-it-down with a sharp knife.  I use my 8″ Shun Chef Knife to break it down into 2-inch chunks.  At the same time, remove the seed and tough outer skin.

breakdown
We begin by chopping the ill-gotten pumpkin in half and removing the seeds.

Every pumpkin is going to be a different size, but generally they weigh around 5-10 pounds.  This recipe uses half of a large pumpkin.

Pumpkin chunks
When you are done, you’ll be left with a bowl full of 2″ pumpkin chunks.

Oh, and remember to be careful with that large knife when breaking it down.  Pumpkins can be incredibly tough on the outside.

Next, find a large soup pot, and saute the following:

  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter

Saute the ingredients until the onions soften.

Saute

Then, add the ill-gotten pumpkin chunks into the pot, and pour in chicken stock (or vegetable stock) until it just reaches the top of the pumpkin.

Broth 1  Broth 2
Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft.

Boiled Pumpkin

At this point, the pumpkin should be very soft.  Turn off the heat and add the following:

  • Half a cup of coconut milk.  I typically use a canned version.
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of fish sauce (to your preference)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Red Thai Curry paste.  I like the stuff that comes in small cans.  This brand is the best.

Coconut milk  Red curry paste
Let the soup cool for about 10 minutes. (You don’t want to continue while the soup is boiling hot)

Next comes the blending — A stick blender is a cheap and easy way to blend soup into a very smooth texture.  If you have one, perfect!  If you don’t, a potato masher can be used in a pinch.

Stick blender
A stick blender gets the job done quickly.

The idea here is to produce a soup that’s smooth and free of large chunks.

That’s it!  You’re done!  Simple, easy, cheap, and delicious!  I usually pair the soup with Thai Basil for a garnish, and drizzle with some of the remaining coconut milk.

Pumpkin Soup

Serves about 6 people.  Cook time is approximately 45 minutes.

The total cost is less than $5, and even cheaper if you have access to ….ahem….”free” pumpkins.

 

A Small Confession

OK, so if you haven’t guessed already, I didn’t ACTUALLY steal a pumpkin from my neighbor.  I confess to making that part up.  I wanted to shock everyone into paying attention.  Did you think I was a pumpkin thief?

Only kidding!  Don’t actually steal a pumpkin from your neighbor.

Our pumpkins came to us free from Grandma Tako’s garden.  She grows pumpkins every year, and inevitably we end up with several.

All joking about pumpkin thievery aside, I want people to realize just how much of our enormous wealth is wasted.  Imagine for a moment if a fraction of those pumpkins piled-up outside the grocery store were actually put to use feeding people….  The world would be a far wealthier and less hungry place.

The point is, make good use of whatever is plentiful in your life.  Everyone has access to different kinds of the world’s resources.  At times, they will be extremely plentiful.  Don’t waste the windfall.  If life gives you 10 pounds of tomatoes, then make a big-assed batch of Mr. Tako’s salsa.

Tomatoes
Yes, I really did have 10 lbs of free tomatoes. Guess what I did this weekend? I made salsa!

So yes, go right ahead and buy a pumpkin for whatever ridiculously low price they’re selling at….but don’t just let it rot in the front yard.  Put it to good use.  Make pumpkin soup!

 

[Image Credit: Flickr1, Flickr2]

24 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Pumpkins…

  • October 11, 2016 at 2:52 PM
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    That looks tasty, Mr. Tako! I may need to try this recipe soon. And, I did think you were a pumpkin thief for the first half of the post. 😉

    BTW, gotta love Shun knives!

    Reply
    • October 11, 2016 at 3:11 PM
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      Shun knives are the best. Mine is now over 10 years old and it looks like new. Amazing level of quality.

      Reply
  • October 11, 2016 at 3:06 PM
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    Nice! I feel the same way this time of year – all that food gone to waste. I also enjoy pumpkin roasted straight up. Just a little bit of salt and maple syrup.. yum.

    Your soup looks delicious, maybe I’ll have to try that with some of my Frankensquash!

    Reply
  • October 11, 2016 at 4:36 PM
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    I used to work at an RV campground and we would buy 100 pumpkins and scatter them all over the campground. In November we’d just take them and throw them out. But the campground was on a huge hill so we’d take a few and bowl them down the hill and they would hit a wall and explode. Super fun when you are 16.

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  • October 11, 2016 at 7:23 PM
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    great idea – but I hate pumpkins! I was thinking “I hope his neighbor doesn’t read his blog!” for the first half of the post. I was thinking there must be some exaggerating happening when you said you took one of his pumpkins! I wish I did like pumpkin because you are right: they are everywhere. They are kind of like a weed to me. I have a few on my front porch if you want to take them 🙂

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    • October 12, 2016 at 7:33 AM
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      Pumpkin doesn’t actually have much flavor, so I’m surprised you hate pumpkin. What’s not to like? It’s like saying you don’t like potatoes.

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      • October 14, 2016 at 8:25 PM
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        Its the same thing with cucumbers – I hate them but they almost have no taste. I think it is the texture and the seeds. Maybe my parents should have made me eat them more as a kid? LOL I don’t know.

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  • October 12, 2016 at 3:28 AM
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    Some jack-o-lantern pumpkins are grown for shape and show more than flavor. Canned pumpkin is often a sweet squash, or a squash pumpkin combo. Consider looking at the grocery store inside for cooking/ baking pumpkins vs the ones on display outside. I’ve had friends and coworkers be super excited to make a dish with pumpkin only to find it like a very bland squash (less flavor than zucchini!) 🙂

    Reply
    • October 12, 2016 at 7:30 AM
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      Yes, that’s right pumpkin doesn’t actually have much flavor….which is why we add curry and garlic!

      Think of pumpkin as the base to which you add flavor. Something like rice, or potatoes.

      Reply
  • October 12, 2016 at 5:50 AM
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    Man, I was hoping the pumpkin thievery was real! 🙂 But I think you really make a good point here about food waste. I had never even considered our fall pumpkin obsession as wasteful, but it really is.

    I love that this has a Thai spin to it! I’m definitely trying this out with Mr. Picky Pincher. We made a roasted pumpkin orecchiete pasta a few weeks ago. It was my first time ever cooking pumpkin and eating it–it was FREAKING GOOD. It didn’t taste how I thought it would, but it was so addictive that I ate the pumpkin like it was French fries.

    I had a reader tell me that it’s a little easier to break down a pumpkin if you roast it whole for about 20 minutes, allow it to cool, break it down into cubes, and then continue cooking it. I haven’t tried that yet. Would you recommend going that route or just sticking with breaking down the raw pumpkin?

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    • October 12, 2016 at 7:28 AM
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      Some pumpkins are tougher than others. Pre-cooking might be easier, but I think it would take longer. Breaking the whole thing down raw only takes about 5-10 minutes.

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  • October 12, 2016 at 7:38 AM
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    I was hoping that you stole the pumpkin – I did start laughing as I read that part and saw the photo with all the pumpkins in it!

    I’ll have to pass this onto my wife who does most of the cooking in our house. As my 6-year-old daughter says “Dad, you only know how to cook macaroni & cheese and pirogis!” I think there are a couple other things I can make, but she’s pretty close! 🙂

    — Jim

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  • October 12, 2016 at 8:09 AM
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    I am so glad you didn’t actually steal the pumpkin. Especially, if by some happenstance your neighbor actually reads your blog. :O)

    Great looking recipe and another one that can convert for vegans. And this time, only the butter has to be modified.

    cd :O)

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    • October 12, 2016 at 8:16 AM
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      Haha, I seriously doubt my neighbor reads the blog. They are super spendy people!

      Glad you’ll get some use out of the recipe!

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  • October 12, 2016 at 2:58 PM
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    I actually thought you really stole it from your neighbor’s garden, and I was like “this guy has balls of steel to shamelessly announce it on his blog, I like that!”. 😉

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  • October 12, 2016 at 6:37 PM
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    Dude, that $5.99 pumpkin pie is gigantic, I barely resisted purchasing it today. I like the idea here, use what is plentiful. The grocery store may sell things year-round due to globalization but the price will change depending on their seasonality.

    Reply
  • October 14, 2016 at 6:15 AM
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    Nice job with the soup. That’s something Mrs. RB40 would like. I’m not a huge fan of thick soup. I knew you didn’t steal the pumpkin. 🙂

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    • October 14, 2016 at 7:35 AM
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      You could definitely thin it out with more stock and more coconut milk!

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  • October 14, 2016 at 9:58 AM
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    Steal the pumpkin! Steal the pumpkin! I bet stolen pumpkin soup tastes even yummier.

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  • October 14, 2016 at 4:20 PM
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    One of my favorite posts. Very funny and useful. Going to make some carrot soup this weekend as we bought a 10lb bag at costco last week and cannot think of what else to do with all the carrots. Cheers.

    Reply
  • October 18, 2016 at 8:26 AM
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    This looks delish and a great reminder of how easy it is to DIY. One of our favorite restaurants in Seattle is Araya’s. They serve pumpkin and avocado curry, which it just so happens that my husband orders this almost every-time we go.

    Looking forward to surprising him with this meal.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2016 at 5:47 PM
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    Haha, *I* was your neighbour last year. Only had 1 pumpkin, and it was STOLEN just before halloween. We were actually planning on making some Khmer pumpkin curry with it once halloween had passed too 😛

    Reply
  • October 5, 2017 at 11:48 AM
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    Just made this tonight, impressed my girlfriend…thanks 😉 Love the Asian touch.

    Crosscountry.

    Reply

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