Pumpkins are Delicious

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Pumpkins are Delicious

At an October luncheon in Healdsburg, the hostess decorated the table with beautiful gourds of all sizes, shapes, and colors, including miniature pumpkins that looked like multi-hued tuffets.

Besides the natural beauty of the fruits, pumpkins were nostalgic treasures to her, she admitted. Through her childhood in Europe, she had no pumpkins, so her mother gave her turnips to carve. Sad. And now she couldn't stop coveting the bounty she'd found in her new home.

Of course, carving a pumpkin is just one of its many uses. Here in Sonoma County, the land loves pumpkins, as evidenced by the many pumpkin patches open seasonally for self-picking, maze adventures, and simply admiring the many 'faces' that give pumpkins such character.

We also like to eat and drink them. Pumpkin beers are popular seasonal brews, such as those served at HopMonk Tavern in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, or at Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa.

Pumpkin flesh is a natural for pies, of course, easily microwaved and pureed. It's a great add-in to waffle, pancake, muffin and cake recipes, and can be substituted for carrots in many soups, stews and casseroles. You can use the shells as savory ramekins for baked meat, rice and vegetables, and roast the seeds with a bit of olive oil and salt for a delightful, healthy snack high in fiber, phosphorus and omega 3 fatty acids.

For something really different, though, look to Africa, where pumpkins are relished as entrees. This recipe from Sonoma County Master Gardener/University of California expert Stephanie Wrightson shares a soothing, delicious soup she discovered while she was working for an international development agency years ago.


West African Peanut Soup


  • 2 c chopped onions
  • 1 T peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne or other ground dried chilies (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger root
  • 1 c chopped carrots
  • 1 c chopped sweet potatoes
  • 1 c chopped pumpkin
  • 4 c vegetable stock or water
  • 2 c tomato juice
  • 1 c smooth peanut butter
  • 1 T sugar (optional – to taste)
  • 1 c chopped scallions or chives for garnish
  • Chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)

Sauté onion in oil until just translucent.  Stir in cayenne and fresh ginger.  Add carrots and sauté a couple more minutes.  Mix in the potatoes, pumpkin and stock or water, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

In a blender or food processor, purée the vegetables with the cooking liquid and the tomato juice.  Return the puree to a soup pot.  Stir in the peanut butter until smooth.  Taste the soup.  Its sweetness will depend upon the sweetness of the carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.  If it's not there naturally, add just a little sugar to enhance the other flavors.

Reheat the soup gently, using a heat diffuser, if needed, to prevent scorching.  Add more water, stock or tomato juice for a thinner soup.

Serve topped with plenty of chopped scallions or chives, and, of course, with Sonoma County wine.

Find more information about Food & Wine, Things to Do, Hotels & Lodging in Sonoma County. And in case  you're looking for an African experience after eating the soup, check out Safari West. Looking for Pumpkin Patches in Sonoma County? Go get them while they're still in season.

Carey Sweet