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Pumpkin Soup

What's not to love about fall in Atlanta? The leaves are changing, the air is turning cooler and Halloween decor abounds. Driving around my neighborhood it's all homegrown fun. But head farther north and professional holiday decor designers are getting paid top dollar to spew Halloween creations across the sprawling manicured lawns of Buckhead mansions. I imagine these designers barely have time to say "boo" before they turn around and install the Christmas decorations for their clients' annual holiday galas. When I fantasize what I would do with unlimited funds, I can't say that having my lawn professionally decorated for the holidays is high on the list. But I certainly don't begrudge those for whom it is.

I never had kids of my own, so family-coordinated costumes, trick-or-treating and lawn decorations was more of a spectator sport for me. Jeff's references to the kids' cartoons and movies that he lived through while raising my three step kids are generally lost on me. As he was juggling who would stay at the house and hand out candy and who would take the kids trick-or-treating, I was sipping pumpkin spiced cocktails at grown up Halloween parties. So as our world's continue to grow together we're creating new traditions. Namely, this year we'll be turning off all the lights and hiding in the house watching movies.

And while you can't swing a black cat without hitting a pumpkin this time of year, there's no way I'm sticking one of these gems outside on the front lawn. My friend Chef Scott Peacock brought me pumpkins that he grew in his backyard the other day, and I've been pouring through cookbooks ever since for recipes. My first try was pumpkin soup, and if I do say so myself, it was amazing. I had never made it before, but these are garden-fresh, gorgeous pumpkins, so how bad could it be? I envy gardeners who can create such beauty - and especially those who are also James Beard award-winning chefs. Well of course it makes sense that Chef Peacock, who can so elegantly coax the flavors from food in the kitchen, would be privy to how it grows in the garden. He described the way the pumpkins grew out of his compost heap, almost as if by accident. I won't even begin to describe what grows out of my compost. Suffice it to say, it's more of a trick than a treat.

Pumpkin Soup

2 medium pumpkins cut in half, scooped clean with seeds reserved

2 onions finely chopped

2 T olive oil

2 quarts chicken broth (preferably homemade)

1 clove garlic finely chopped

1 T ginger finely chopped

2 T pomegranate seeds

1 T agave

salt/pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Place pumpkins cut-side down on a baking sheet and bake for one hour and let cool. Clean and dry seeds, salt generously and spread evenly on a baking sheet and stick in the oven half way through to cook for 30 minutes. In a heavy bottom pot saute the onions, garlic and ginger seasoned with salt and pepper for 10-15 minutes until soft and golden. Scoop the pumpkin out of its skin and add to onions and saute for 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and agave and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn to low, cover pot and let simmer for taste and add salt. Tasting is key - add salt/pepper or more agave as needed. Then blend until smooth - either with an immersion blender or in batches in a stand up blender. Taste again and add salt or pepper as needed. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds.

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