As a pumpkin pie-loving culture, Americans have grown up believing the flesh to be the most important part of the pumpkin. Originally, however—some 6,000 years ago in Mexico—pumpkins were cultivated for their seeds. This recipe proves that the flesh isn't just for pies but makes a delicious soup as well. We found it best to use a heavy pumpkin, with thick flesh that keeps it intact during baking.
- 1 (7-lb.) Cinderella pumpkin, with a 2" stem
- 7 Tbsp. butter
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 1⁄2 fresh white bread crumbs, toasted
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground sage
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup grated Swiss cheese
- 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream, optional
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut a lid about 4" in diameter out of top of pumpkin and set lid aside. Remove and discard seeds and strings. Rub inside of pumpkin and lid with 1 tbsp. softened butter, season with salt, and place on a baking pan.
Melt remaining 6 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in bread crumbs and cook for 2 minutes, then add nutmeg and sage and season generously with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, then spoon mixture into pumpkin. Pour enough stock into pumpkin to come within 1⁄2" of the rim. Lay bay leaves on top, then fit lid onto pumpkin.
Bake until pumpkin begins to soften and brown on the outside and the stock bubbles on the inside, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Carefully remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter. With a long-handled spoon, scrape flesh from bottom and sides of pumpkin and, just before serving, stir in heavy cream if using.