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Pumpkins and 18th Century Hudson Valley Cookery

When the first Europeans settlers came to North America many dependent on pumpkins and other foods obtained from Native Americans for their survival. Traveler Peter Kalm provides an insightful description of pumpkin and early American cuisine in New York' Hudson Valley in the 18th century: "Here at Albany the Dutch made a kind of porridge out of [pumpkins], prepared in the following way. They boiled them first in water, next mashed them in about the same way as we do turnips, then boiled them [again] in a little of the water they had first been boiled in, with fresh milk added, and stirred them while they were boiling. What a delicious dish it became!" Below is my modern rendition and a pumpkin bread recipe. Here is a soup recipe my family loves, including my six and nine year old children.

Fred’s Famous Pumpkin Soup:

Serves 6 to 8 people

Ingredients

1 Large Pumpkin

3 Vegetable Bouillon Cubes

Vanilla Soy or Coconut Milk

Butter

Salt

Pepper

Instructions

Cut a large pumpkin in quarters (leave the shell on). Freeze some in zip locked bags for later use and take about 4 cups worth and bake them in the oven on a cold morning at 400 for about an hour until they are sweet and soft on the inside like a sweet potato. The will both warm you house and make is smell like a bakery. And don't forget to roast the seeds with you seasoning of choice. You can also pop the pumpkin quarters in the microwave for 20 minutes but they will not come out as sweet. Let cool and then scrap the pumpkin out of the shell. Sauté in a covered skillet with butter, salt and pepper, and garlic until golden brown. Next, purée in a blender with enough vanilla soy or coconut milk to allow for blending, about 2-3 cups of milk will do. Bring about four cups of water to boil and add three vegetable soup bouillon cubes. Then had the puréed pumpkin, season to taste a little more if you like, than cook in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes or a regular covered pot for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Suggested Reading

Hudson Valley Foodways

Harlem And Upper West Side Eateries In the 1930s and 1940s

Let’s Talk Small Town New York Pizza