Conscious Cook: Celebrate the upcoming blue moon with pumpkin soup

“There is magic in the night when pumpkins glow by moonlight” — Unknown

Is there is a bit of minor melancholy to Halloween this year? With COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting the usual array of festivities, conscious cooks must create new and delicious ways of celebrating this highly anticipated holiday. If “stay home, stay safe” is your community guideline, seize the opportunity to prepare a hauntingly good time in your own home.

This year the full moon will rise on Halloween night, and in a wonderfully rare occurrence, it is a blue moon that will grace the sky. Blue moon is the name given to a second full moon in a calendar month. Blue moons occur only every two to three years, so take a moment to observe the lovely lunar glow!

Whether you choose to go full-on costume mode, or indulge in an eerie movie marathon, there are plenty of playful ways to indulge little ones and adults alike.

I might normally urge a bit of restraint when it comes to candy consumption, but not this year. While high quality dark chocolate is always an excellent choice, whatever delicacy you or your family prefer, I say seize the day and savor away. Pick up all the favorite treats of your Halloween household and put together festive goodie bags. A trip to any Dollar Store will provide brightly colored bags and all kinds of embellishments, from spider rings to glow bracelets, and so much more.

Pumpkin carving is a terrific Halloween night activity. Or roast a sugar pumpkin or two. You will then have plenty of pumpkin to bake cookies, brownies, or any pumpkin based goodie. Save the seeds and roast them as well. They will be a sensational and super healthy snack, packed with protein, fiber, magnesium and iron. Or use pumpkin to make a big pot of colorful, comforting, sustaining soup.

Whatever form your good food and good company take this Halloween, revel in the pleasure of preparing a delicious life!

Blue Moon Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4

1 small sugar pumpkin or 4 pounds butternut squash

1 large onion, cut in chunks

3 large carrots, peeled and cut in chunks

5-6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled

1 large apple, peeled, cored and quartered

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

7 to 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups apple cider

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place pumpkin or squash on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. In a shallow baking pan, place onions, carrots, garlic and apple. Sprinkle with rosemary, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups of broth into the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Roast, stirring once or twice until vegetables and apple are very soft and caramelized, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The pumpkin will finish cooking more quickly. Remove pumpkin from the oven when finished cooking and let cool. Cut in half and scoop out seeds and stringy membrane. Scoop out flesh, process in a food processor until smooth or with a stick blender and place in a stockpot. Squeeze the garlic out of its skins into a food processor. Add vegetables and apples in batches and puree until very smooth, adding more broth if necessary. Add vegetable puree to the stockpot with pumpkin. Whisk in the cider. Add more broth as necessary to achieve desired texture. Bring to a boil, whisking, then turn down to a simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and season with more pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt and pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper, if desired. Serve piping hot, with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “the Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.