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I swore off pumpkin for the year after making about 7 dozens pumpkin chocolate chip muffintops for the newsroom last month. But then on my fall drive two weeks ago, I was thoroughly enticed by the many roadside markets I saw and decided to stop at one near the end of my drive with the intent of buying some sweet corn. Alas, they were out of sweet corn by that time of day and instead I picked up a white acorn squash, some red bell peppers, and yes, a pie pumpkin.

Now the red bell peppers went into my ratatouille from last week, and the white acorn squash (that damned impossible-to-cut thing) unfortunately went to a failed flourless apple acorn squash pie, but this little guy has just been sitting patiently on my windowsill.

I have to say I was a little daunted when I took my knife to the pumpkin this afternoon. It has been so long since I’ve carved a pumpkin that I forgot these squashes are much easier to cut than their miserable cousins. Thankfully, pumpkins are easy to cut.

And since this isn’t quite the hearty soup like others, I knew based on my appetite that I would need something substantial. So I also made a grilled cheese sandwich with mushrooms and onions. Otherwise I would’ve had to drink half a pot of soup.

For the Spiced Pumpkin Soup


  • 1 pie pumpkin (mine was about 7 inches in diameter)
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
  • pumpkin seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees.
  2. Cut off the top of the pumpkin. It doesn’t need to be a perfect circle, just remove the top (this will ensure the pumpkin doesn’t explode from all the hot air buildup).
  3. Remove all the seeds and pulp with a spoon. (Save the seeds.)
  4. Then put the pumpkin in a baking dish filled with about 1 1/2 inches of water.
  5. Pour about tablespoon of water inside the pumpkin and put the top back on, misplacing it so that it allows for points of ventilation.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Then remove and flip the pumpkin upside down. The top can just be put on the side.
  8. Remove to oven and bake for another 35-40 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan for about 3 minutes. You should be able to smell it and see that it’s lightly browned.
  10. Then remove the fennel seeds to a mortar and crush the seeds.
  11. Heat up the olive oil in the pan and add the fennel seeds and garlic.
  12. Then add in the onion, coating it with the oil and fennel seeds. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent.
  13. Once the pumpkin is ready, scoop out the flesh. My pumpkin yielded about 3 cups.
  14. Puree the mashed the pumpkin. Mashing by spoon works too but won’t be as fast or thorough.
  15. Put the pumpkin and the onion mixture in a Dutch oven and saute for about 3 minutes.
  16. Then add the water and let boil uncovered on high for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to continuously puree the pumpkin.
  17. Stir in the crushed coriander seeds and cover, continuing to cook on high for another 30 minutes.
  18. Turn the heat down to medium and add in the Greek yogurt.
  19. Stir well and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes as the soup thickens.
  20. Soup into a bowl and top with roasted pumpkin seeds. I had some cinnamon-salt white acorn seeds leftover from last week so I used those.

For the Mushroom Grilled Cheese


  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/3 of a medium onion, sliced into rings
  • 3 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 2 slices of bread of your choice (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon of margarine
  • 2 ounces of Pecoriano Romano, thinly sliced


  1. Heat up the olive oil and add in the onion.
  2. Saute for about 5 minutes and then add in the sliced mushrooms.
  3. Saute for another 8-10 minutes and then add in the marjoram about a minute before turning off the heat.
  4. Set the mushrooms and onions aside.
  5. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of margarine on one side of each slice of bread.
  6. Place margaine-side down in the pan, then top with the slices of Pecoriano Romano.
  7. Cook covered on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is mostly melted.
  8. Spoon back in the mushroom and onion mixture and top off.