We’re well into October and as my three-year-old, Sammy, keeps saying, “It’s almost Halloween!” I hit the bookstore a few days ago and returned with these two books. They have Sammy’s seal of approval.
The first, Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, is a rollicking tale of three friends: Cat, Squirrel, and Duck. They live together happily in a little white cabin and every day they make pumpkin soup, the best you’ve every tasted! The Cat slices the pumpkin, the Squirrel stirs the soup, and the Duck measures out the salt. One day Duck decides to mix things up (literally) when he demands to stir the soup instead of doing his regular job. Cat and Squirrel are mad and Duck moves out. Will they ever make pumpkin soup together again? The curious preschooler will want to know.
This book is also a great springboard to cooking with kids. After I read the book to Sammy, we made pumpkin soup together (okay, it was really butternut squash soup, but who’s gonna know?). Sammy really enjoyed slicing up the pumpkin (like the Cat), stirring (like the Squirrel), and measuring the salt (like the Duck). And the soup? Well, it was the best you ever tasted, of course!
The School Library Tiger’s recipe for Pumpkin Soup (aka Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan and Sage)
1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
6 - 8 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 large piece of Parmesan cheese rind
2 bay leaves
3 or 4 fresh sage leaves, diced fine
1/8 ts cayenne
1/4 ts freshly ground nutmeg
4 tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 ts freshly ground black pepper
1 ts kosher or sea salt
- Quarter the butternut squash and scrape out seeds. Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil (See Sammy demonstrating in the picture above). Roast squash at 400 degrees for an hour. Remove and let cool. Remove skin, chop into large chunks (2 in.) and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat and saute celery and onions for 5-6 minutes.
- Add veggie stock, Parmesan cheese rind, squash, and Bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Partially cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove rind and Bay leaves.
- Puree the soup in a blender until smooth and return to pot. Warning: If you do this while the soup is hot, cover the blender with a towel instead of the lid or remove the center piece in the blender top to allow stem to escape. If you don’t do this it will explode! (I know from personal experience).
- Add grated Parmesan, sage, salt, and spices. Simmer until heated through.
- Optional: Garnish with chopped toasted walnuts, creme fraiche, or Tabasco sauce, depending on your tastes. For color, sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley on top.