Pumpkin, Spice & Everything Nice

ENJOY THIS DELICIOUS FALL GEM SWEET, SPICY AND SAVORY!

Story and Photography by Kerry Guice

French onion pumpkin soup recipe
 

It's pumpkin time! You've likely visited one of Arkansas's several pumpkin patches at least once already to let the kids choose their own pumpkin for carving, while you carefully chose the perfect Cinderella pumpkins to stack next to the mums on your front porch.

The chill in the air leaves me in the mood for things like soup and chai tea lattes, so I've come up with a few ways you can use this gorgeous fall staple to satisfy all those cool weather cravings!

One of my very favorite autumn treats is a hot Chai Tea Latte from MYLO in Hillcrest. They use their own spice blend, and it's super spicy, just the way I like it! While I love the idea of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, they always taste too sweet to me. I created my own variation of a Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte to control the sweetness and the spiciness, and I wasn't disappointed! To truly maximize the flavor of this tea, drink on a cold and rainy Sunday while reading a good book.

If you need a show-stopper for dinner guests (or a warm-up on a lazy day), French Onion Soup is like comfort food from Heaven. The combination of this rich soup when served in a savory-sweet roasted pumpkin will make this slightly time-consuming recipe worth the work, I promise!

And don't forget to reserve the seeds from the two sugar pumpkins— roasted pumpkin seeds are the perfect fall snack! Along with being tasty, pumpkin seeds are incredibly healthy. With Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your brain power, magnesium for heart health, and zinc to build up your immune system, these powerful little seeds deserve to be enjoyed! Each 3/4 cup serving gives you 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein, so it's the perfect snack to keep in your purse to curb your appetite throughout your day because, let's face it, cookie exchanges and holiday parties are just around the corner!

FRENCH ONION SOUP IN A ROASTED PUMPKIN BOWL

Makes 2 filled pumpkin bowls (with leftovers)

2 sugar pumpkins, roughly the same size
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon flour
1 quart beef bone broth (regular beef broth works, too)
1 loaf baguette bread (or other crusty bread)
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the top . off of the pumpkin. Remove the seeds and “guts” from the pumpkin, leaving the fruit in tact (reserve the seeds to roast for a snack!). Drizzle the inside and outside of the bottom and top with olive oil, then sprinkle salt and pepper all around the inside of the pumpkins, and place whole pumpkins on two cookie sheets, the tops and bottoms side by side (not put back together). Roast pumpkins for 45-50 minutes, until fork goes easily into the flesh of the pumpkin. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the soup, Melt the stick of butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat, then add onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper and red wine. Stir, then bring to a simmer (still over medium heat), stirring occasionally, for a minimum of 45 minutes, until all wine is evaporated and onions are very soft (almost melted). Add the flour and stir until dissolved, then add the bone broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, slice 2-4 pieces of the baguette. Place on a cookie sheet and top liberally with the Gruyere cheese. Place cookie sheet under the broiler, (watching carefully!), and remove when cheese is melted and the outside of the bread is toasted.

To assemble, place a pumpkin bowl on a plate (or shallow bowl), then carefully ladle the soup into the pumpkin. Float a Gruyere toast on top of the soup, and rest the pumpkin “lid” against the side of the pumpkin (or place on top for an even more dramatic presentation).

Serve immediately (or keep the toast separate if not serving immediately). When eating, scoop a bit of the roasted pumpkin with your spoon to combine the flavors of the roasted pumpkin with the rich soup. (Note: There will be likely more soup than you need to fill two pumpkins, so freeze the rest for later!)

Spicy roasted pumpkin seeds recipe

SPICY ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed
3 cups water
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove seeds from pumpkin, rinsing any remaining pumpkin flesh off the seeds. Bring 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon sea salt to a boil, add the seeds and boil for 10 minutes. Strain the seeds well and pat dry. Spread in one even layer on cookie sheet. In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Drizzle seasoning over seeds and toss to combine. Roast in a preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, checking and shaking the pan often. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from the pan to store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte recipe

PUMPKIN CHAI TEA LATTE

Makes 2 lattes

1 cup water
2 bags chai tea
1 cup milk (I use vanilla almond milk)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Whipped cream for topping (optional)

Directions:

Bring water to a simmer, then remove from heat and add the 2 bags of tea. Steep for 7 minutes, then squeeze the tea bags over the pan before removing. While tea is steeping, combine milk, pumpkin, cinnamon and maple syrup in a blender and blend about 45 seconds, until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the pumpkin “cream” to the chai tea, and serve hot (topped with whipped cream, if desired).