I had my work cut out: A solid chunk of grass to remove to make way for a vegetable patch. The kind of thing I imagined only doing in peaceful old age. It’s actually quite the workout, twisting and tearing grass from the ground with all my strength; it’s almost a violent act. When I was already sweating halfway through, I felt rain pouring on my back. This was months ago, when we first decided to grow edibles in our garden.
After planting seeds & seedlings (carrots, arugula, potatoes, onions, garlic, lettuce, wild strawberries, raspberries) it seemed like so much effort for an as-of-yet intangible result. I stared at the invisible vegetables sitting in that piece of land, imagining what they would look like after a bit of time, care and patience. It’s a work in progress and will always be both unfinished and complete, unveiling itself in its various states throughout the seasons.
Cucurbita on the other hand, all these beautiful varieties of squash, pumpkins, butternuts, etc., appeared as somewhat intimidating; they seemed to spring out of thin air, so visible and robust, even in large gardens. We did not dare plant any even though we later heard they’re not that complicated to grow. It may have been their great size and bright colors we thought we’d never be able to foster. And for months, we peered over the wall separating our yard from the neighbors’, admiring the endless varieties of vegetables & fruits they were cultivating and feeling a little anxious that our progeny would come out with the wrong colors, monstrous shapes, odd tastes.
Now, as our patch is covered in a thick carpet of snow and as we empty our pantry in preparation for the move, we have one last beautiful cucurbita to prepare, given to us weeks ago by our friendly neighbors. It’s been standing by itself in the cold, amongst the shelves, like a strange sculpture waiting to be turned into soup. Its day has come.
Roasted pumpkin silky velouté + Espelette pepper
| Serves 4-6
We were told that for even better conservation, store pumpkins & squash at room temperature for the first two weeks, then transfer to colder environments. They’ll last for months!
- 1 kg pumpkin or squash, peeled & diced
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly diced
- Sesame oil
- 1/2-1 tsp ground Espelette pepper, to taste
- A few thyme sprigs (and some extra for serving)
- 1 tsp-tbsp ground ginger, to taste
- 1 onion, peeled & diced
- 1/2-1L chicken stock
- 1 tbsp cornstarch (only if needed to thicken the soup)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds for serving (optional)
- Fleur de sel & black pepper
- In a large bowl, mix the peeled & diced squash with the sesame oil, chopped garlic, thyme sprigs & Espelette pepper. Lay on a baking sheet, season to taste and roast for app. 30 min in a preheated 200°C oven until soft & well colored.
- In a hot pot, stir-fry the diced onion for 1-2 minutes. Add the roasted squash & ground ginger and stir until it starts turning into a purée. Remove the thyme sprigs, add 1/2L chicken stock and mix thoroughly using a (hand) blender.
- Adjust the consistency to taste by adding more chicken stock and/or water (up to 2 cups) and/or a little bit of cornstarch to thicken the velouté.
- You can add a few sesame seeds and/or fresh thyme sprigs for serving.