BASTION MOUNTAIN RANCH - TALES OF A FARM FAMILY


My family lived on a Ranch full time from 1993 until 2015. We were a 5th generation family farm.
I am writing this blog to share my experiences living there. It is best to read the blog chronologically by going through the archives, starting with the introduction in January of 2010.
The blog starts with the arrival of my great-grandparents to the farm in 1947 and will follow the families to the present.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pumpkin Soup from Hermance

Recently I spent a cold and rainy November day in the house, unable to go to work due to a sore throat.  I was too lazy to light the giant wood stove so the only heat was the meager waves from the small oil heaters. It was just the new kitten and I, a recent arrival who still regarded me with suspicion. The yet unnamed family member was already quite formidable, even at his young age. I found myself wanting diversion from his steady gaze so brought him into the kitchen and decided to make my Aunt Michele's pumpkin soup, partially to warm up the kitchen with the heat of our commercial propane stove.
I had purchased the pumpkins in early October, thinking of my Aunt as I did so. The pumpkin soup was one of her favourites and made a regular appearance in her home. In March and April of this year I spent time with my Aunt who was bed ridden. She had a lovely room with a view of the roof tops of her village, Hermance, where she had spent the greater part of her years as a wife, mother and grandmother.

The roof tops of Hermance, with the Lac Leman beyond.

 My Aunt, like her mother Renee, was an accomplished cook and had a fine palate. During my stay with my Aunt I was often left with the challenge to prepare lunch and supper. I struggle with cooking, although I believe that if I had lots of time I would eventually become a fine cook. I think I demonstrated that point on that November day when I undertook recreating my Aunt's pumpkin soup.

I had the Aunt's instructions still ringing faintly in my memory, but decided to do a quick search for pumpkin soup recipes on the internet. I discovered that they all used pumpkin puree or roasted pumpkin , my Aunt always used fresh pumpkin. I then went into a food blog from a New Zealand writer as I remembered that "kiwis" consume a lot of pumpkin. There I found a recipe very  reminiscent  of my Aunt's creation, thus encouraged I set about preparing the pumpkin.

It was then I recalled that I had purchased the pumpkin already prepared in Geneva, neatly wrapped in plastic, only needing to be cubed. I have never been a big pumpkin carver, more the encouraging bystander. I choose the biggest knife, and with the kitten looking sceptically on, I started carving.

The pumpkins were beautiful in their natural state.

The new member of our household withheld his vote of confidence.

Even with the biggest knife I very quickly encountered problems. I started to doubt the wisdom of wielding such a large knife all alone in the house, not being able to count the cat as a First Aid attendant, or in fact useful in any way.  I am not known for my manual dexterity and after some massive chopping and hacking decided not to photograph the results, deeming them unhelpful. I just wish everyone good fortune with this task, and to go about it safely. I will be trying to find prepared pumpkin in the future as I found my lack of skill quite profound as well as disliking the texture of the slimy seeds within the pumpkins.

The knife became strongly wedged in the pumpkin.

Finally the pumpkin was chopped up into uneven chunks. I started a soup pot on the stove with olive oil and onion, adding the pumpkin and a few potatoes from the garden. I could not help but to notice how nicely the potatoes were chopped in comparison to the pumpkin.

The potatoes from the garden gathered up in one of the original milk pails from the days on the farm when the milking was done by hand. The pail is a pleasure to use, being both beautiful and practical.

I added the pumpkin and the potatoes together into the pot with the onion and added enough water to liberally cover the vegetables. The vegetables were then brought to a slow boil, and then allowed to simmer. I added some grated fresh nutmeg and black pepper. Once the vegetables were cooked I put in some fresh Thyme from my winter garden.

I used water to cook the vegetables in, opting for a vegetarian dish. Chicken stock can also be used.

These small blenders do a great job of rendering the soup to a creamy consistency.

The final product served in one of my grandmother's Willow Pattern soup bowls with a spoon of sour cream and fresh ground black pepper.

The soup is  a good use of the pumpkin carved out to make way for the Jake O Lantern.


Food is a delicious connection to those who love us and a very nice way to express love to others. After all that cooking I enjoyed some of my Aunt's marmalade that I had carefully stowed away in my suitcases after our last visit. She made beautiful jam but we never did that together so unless someone else in her family did that recipe is lost.