Beautiful, bright orange pumpkins make great pies, sure, but they're also delicious in savory soups, stew and braises. With a mildly sweet, earthy flavor, pumpkin works well in a feisty chili, elegant purée or lush curry.
There are several new varieties in the market worth a try. Take the sugar pumpkin, about the size of an acorn squash with a subtle nutty taste; the pretty silver-blue Jarrahdale (or Jerry) pumpkin, with a creamy texture; or the pale Long Island cheese pumpkin that looks like a large homemade cheesewheel.
Any of these pumpkins are delicious cut into chunks, seeded and roasted as you would a winter squash. Serve the chunks lathered with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a dash of dried chile flakes and a squirt of lime.
When peeled and cut into smaller pieces, pumpkin adds substance and flavor to vegetable soups and stews. Granted, pumpkins are harder than butternut squash to peel. One trick is to slice them in half, seed, then roast them in a 400-degree oven until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool a little before peeling and cutting.
This warming, hardy soup is spiked with fragrant za'atar spices (a heady mix of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, hyssop, oregano and salt) and a splash of orange. The white beans add richness and the sliced kale gives it color and a slightly bitter crunch. Served with crusty bread and a sharp cheese, this makes a fine meal. Toss in leftover turkey for a satisfying stew. It is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day and freezes beautifully.
Beth Dooley is a Minneapolis author and cooking instructor.