Bootin’ the Gluten

I always have loved the changing seasons.

Whether welcoming spring and the tender vegetables it brings with it, an early summer full of fresh berries or bracing for a cold winter overflowing with citrus, each season brings something to look forward to.

Saying goodbye to warm summer nights is never easy, but with fall comes the changing leaves, crisp air and holidays that follow, which always seems to make it easier.

Not to mention, fall produce simply is wonderful. Giant crates of local apples begging to be made into pies, Brussels sprouts that are still on the stalk, and figs that are sweet enough to eat alone. And of course, pumpkins!

This wonderful fall squash often is overlooked and only thought of for carving jack o’ lanterns, but the sweet flesh and nutrient packed seeds can be used in many different culinary mediums.

While any pumpkin can be used, you will get the best results from sugar pumpkins, sometimes referred to as pie pumpkins. They are smaller and have a sweet and tender flesh.

Like most squash, to prepare the flesh simply cut the pumpkin into wedges and either roast it until tender (develop the most flavor), or boil it until the skin peels back. Afterward, spoon the flesh into a bowl, leaving the skin behind, and mash it.

You can use it right away in place of canned pumpkin or transfer to an airtight container and freeze for a later use.

This year, rather than buy traditional pumpkins for decoration, I bought sugar pumpkins with the intention of using them later.

One medium sized pumpkin, two pies and one pumpkin loaf later, and I still had four cups of puree left over.

Rather than make another pie, I chose to venture to the savory side of pumpkin and make a soup.

A favorite restaurant of mine used to serve a pumpkin and apple soup, the apple, which perfectly complimented it, added a sweet and tart flavor profile.

While I always enjoyed their version, I wanted to spice mine up a bit and make a soup that really warms you from the inside out.

I often curry pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack, so I decided to carry those flavors over into the soup.

The result was a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, hitting just the right the spot for a cool fall night.

Curried pumpkin soup

Yields: 3 quarts soup

8-10 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

3 cloves (1 1/2 tablespoons) garlic, minced

2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

4 cups mashed sugar pumpkin

4 ups vegetable stock

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup goat cheese (1 tablespoon per serving)

1/2 cup pepitas

In a large dutch oven or stockpot, heat your oil until it shimmers.

Once hot, add the shallot and cook until it is translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Add the minced garlic, curry powder, cumin and salt, and cook for about 1 more minute, stirring constantly so it does not burn.

Stir in your mashed sugar pumpkin, or canned pumpkin if you do not have fresh, and cook for 5 minutes, continuously stirring to warm the pumpkin.

Add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth.

If you do not have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup to a blender, and puree in batches.

Once your soup is pureed, bring back to a simmer and stir in your milk until fully incorporated and heated through.

Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of goat cheese and a sprinkle of pepitas, which are just hulled pumpkin seeds, then enjoy!

Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession.

A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge.

Her goal is to make gluten free an option for everyone, not just those in need.

Green may be reached at life@sungazette.com.

Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.