The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important festival in China after Chinese New Year. Chinese people celebrate it by gathering for dinners, worshiping the moon, lighting paper lanterns, eating mooncakes, etc.
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 pumpkin, 8 to 10 inches in diameter
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 small white turnips, peeled and sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 large potato, peeled and sliced
- 5 cups chicken stock (or water), or as needed
- 1 10-inch French-style baguette or 2 small rolls, crusts removed, thinly sliced
- ½ cup heavy cream
Prep the Pumpkin:
Cut off top of pumpkin at least 5 inches across, so that it can serve as a lid. Scoop out and discard all seeds and stringy material. Using a large sturdy spoon, scrape out 6 cups of pumpkin meat, taking care not to break through the shell. Set aside the pumpkin and its lid in a warm place.
In a large soup pot over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add wine and simmer for 1 minute. Add turnips, carrot, potato, pumpkin meat and enough chicken stock or water to barely cover. Cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 6 tablespoons butter, and add bread slices, turning until lightly browned on both sides. Set aside half for garnish, and when soup has come to a boil, add remaining half to the soup.
- Cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 6 tablespoons butter, and add bread slices, turning until lightly browned on both sides. Set aside half for garnish, and when soup has come to a boil, add remaining half to the soup. Gently simmer soup for 1 hour, stirring once or twice. The soup will be very thick; if it seems in danger of burning, reduce heat and stir in a small amount of broth or water.Add cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, purée the hot soup in the pot until very smooth. Alternatively, remove soup from heat and allow to cool until no longer steaming, then purée in a food processor or blender. Return soup to a clean pot and reheat gently
Pour hot soup into pumpkin. Serve from pumpkin, garnishing each serving with one or two reserved toasts.
Pumpkin — to Bring Good Health
The tradition of eating pumpkin during the festival is followed by people living south of the Yangtze River.
Poor families chose to eat pumpkin during the Mid-Autumn Festival in ancient times, as they couldn’t afford mooncakes. The tradition has been passed down, and eating pumpkin on the Mid-Autumn Festival night is believed to bring people good health.
An interesting legend goes that a very poor family, a couple with their daughter, lived at the foot of South Mountain. The old couples were seriously sick for lack of food and clothes. The daughter found a oval-shaped melon one day when she was working in the fields on the South Mountain. She brought the melon home and cooked to serve to her dying parents. Surprisingly, her sick parents recovered after eating the melon. Because the melon was picked from the South Mountain, so it was named ‘south melon’ (the Chinese name for pumpkin).