Pumpkins, Pumpkins & More Pumpkins

It’s been a tough year for tomatoes, but it’s been our best year ever for growing pumpkins.  At the Wine Center, we grow over 20 varieties of heirloom pumpkins and winter squash.  It’s really exciting to grow these varieties.

We save the pumpkin seeds and use them from year to year, which is why we have such a great assortment, such as: the Jarrahdale, a blue-grey pumpkin from Australia; Rouge Vif  d’Etampes, the Cinderella pumpkin fromFrance; and the Long Island Cheese pumpkin that comes fromLong Island and looks like a wheel of cheese.

Pumpkins and winter squash are not just for decorating, they are fun to cook with too and have been used as a winter food for centuries.  We’ve been grilling flatbread at the Wine Center and topping it with pumpkin butter, spaghetti squash and Carmody cheese – this is amazing paired with Chardonnay.

We also like to roast pumpkin, purée it and fold it into grits, polenta or risotto.  One of my very favorites, when the weather gets cold, is a hot, spicy bowl of pumpkin soup.  Below is my recipe for Pumpkin & Dried Mango Soup.  Enjoy this with a glass of Vintner’s Reserve Riesling.

Pumpkin & Dried Mango Soup

This simple fall soup can be made in thirty minutes. It can be refrigerated for up to one week and also freezes very well. The addition of julienne tart apple, such as Granny Smith, and fresh crab meat for garnish makes it a more elegant first course.

Serves 8


  • 1oz. rice oil or olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. lemongrass
  • 2 dried chile negro pods, seeded, toasted & chopped
  • 3 lbs. pumpkin (such as Long Island Cheese), peeled, seeded & cubed (Butternut squash makes a delicious alternative here)
  • 3 oz. dried mango, re-hydrated in 2 quarts hot water, reserve liquid
  • 4 oz. coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt

In a large pot over medium heat, add oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for approximately 4 minutes. Add butter, lemongrass, chile pods and cook for 1 minute more. Add the butternut squash and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mango and its liquid, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, carefully blend and strain.