When I first saw this recipe I was so excited to try it that I went out and bought all of the ingredients that same day. Actually MAKING the soup INSIDE THE PUMPKIN seemed like the most crazy and incredible idea that I had ever heard of. I didn’t get around to making it that first weekend, and I left that first pumpkin out for decoration, and in about 2 days time it was no longer fit for cooking. I had to wait a whole week for the farmers market to come back into my neighborhood to get a new pumpkin that I could cook right away. The anticipation and excitement was killing me – I had to try this, and I had to know if it would actually work in real life. It seemed like this could be one of those beautiful yet impossible recipes that you find every now and then in magazines.
It seems so simple though: once you’ve scraped all of the seeds and tendril-like insides out of the pumpkin, you plop all of the ingredients in and stick it in the oven. The most difficult part of this whole thing is carving out the inside of the pumpkin, which takes significantly longer than I usually anticipate it will.
I have never really baked/cooked anything IN anything except for stuffing Italian peppers with spicy sausage, and my biggest fear was that, in the middle of my cooking this soup, the pumpkin would cave in on itself and a tidal wave of chicken broth and cheese would come racing out of my oven.
However, that was not the case. Followed the recipe pretty much exactly and the results were superb: The soup was cheesy and salty and paired perfectly with the buttery and nutty pumpkin flesh that you gently carve out of the sides and scoop into the bowls.
- 1 6–8 pound Cinderella, cheese, or Jarrahdale pumpkin
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely ground
- 2 large pinches piment d’Espelette
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups (packed) grated Gruyère
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from white bread
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 5–7 cups low-salt chicken stock
- Flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut out a wide circle around stem of pumpkin to make a lid. Lift lid; scrape off any seeds and set aside. Scoop out seeds and strings from inside pumpkin.
Place pumpkin in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Rub pumpkin flesh with butter. Sprinkle all over inside with ground fennel seeds and piment d’Espelette. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, and bay leaves. Pour in stock to come within 3″ of the pumpkin’s rim. Cover with lid.
Roast pumpkin for 1 hour. Remove lid; put lid flesh side up on pan alongside pumpkin and return to oven. Continue to roast until pumpkin flesh is soft when pierced with a knife (take care not to puncture skin), 30-90 minutes more, depending on size of pumpkin.
Discard bay leaves. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, gently scoop a big spoonful of flesh from sides or bottom of pumpkin into each bowl and ladle stock over. Garnish with parsley.