There is something special about the transitional seasons of autumn and spring. Autumn is the season of colour and nowhere is colour more apparent than in one of the main vegetable harvests of the autumn, curcubits (pumpkins and squash). This late September weekend, we went to a small festival celebrating the versatile veg, located at the farm Mathis-Hof just outside Basel, Switzerland.
The farm entrance is pretty, with panoramic views and a “pick your own” flower garden. The festival is clearly popular among the local Swiss and English-speaking expat community, judging by the small crowd that was already there.
There were hundreds of different varieties of pumpkins and squash for sale, in all different colours as well shapes and sizes. I never knew how many different types of pumpkins and squash existed before I came to this little food festival! Some were even for sale just for ornamental purposes. The ones that were on sale for consumption were each shown with an explanation of the variety. Many also had suggestions for recipes or cooking methods. It was fascinating just to walk around and see the variety of colours, shapes and textures.
As well as selling the raw veg, the festival was also doing a roaring trade in ready-prepared pumpkin-themed food and beverages.Speaking about this, at the main food tent, we found some pumpkin pound cake and pumpkin pie. A new and special treat though, was the beer they were selling – Unser Kürbis-Bier. Unser is a small Basel brewery that is actually located about three minutes walk down the road from our current apartment. They make excellent, fresh-tasting beers using local ingredients.
The Kürbis-Bier is brand-new for this year, made using pumpkin juice from the veg grown at the Mathis-Hof. Having drunk three each over the course of a sunny September afternoon, these foodie bloggers can confirm this beer is rated in the “highly drinkable” category. We also tried some pumpkin ice-cream, made by the much-loved local ice-cream makers, Gasparini.
Before our afternoon ended, we took a walk in the “Mais-Labyrinth” – a maze in the cornfield next to the farm. It was good fun getting lost in the maze and finding the hidden treats inside, including giant rubber tyres, small trampolines, climbing frames. It is a great event for kids, as the dozens of kids hurtling past us could testify.
This recipe for pumpkin soup is one that I have used before, and will use for some of my pumpkin purchases from today.
Pumpkin soup with ginger
You will need:
500g pumpkin, deseeded and cut into large cubes (no need to peel it)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, chopped small
1 tsp cumin
200ml single or double cream
Oil for frying
500ml vegetable stock (plus another 500ml boiling water)
Heat the oil and fry the onion gently over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes in a large, deep saucepan. Add the pumpkin and ginger, and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Mix in the cumin and cook for a further minute. Add the stock, boiling water and seasoning. Cover and bring back to the boil. Simmer over a low heat for 30-40 minutes or until all the pumpkin is completely soft. Using a hand blender or food processor, blend the soup until it has a silky consistency. Add the cream and stir it in well. Finally Serve hot in bowls, with bread or crunchy croutons. You could also add toasted pumpkin seeds.