Pumpkin, Pancetta and Sage Soup Cooked in a Pumpkin Shell

My Own Pumpkin Patch

Sometimes I get inspiration for my recipes from nature; for instance, a sunset with brilliant colors may remind me of a special dessert. I was recently blessed with a new inspiration when I came upon the Pumpkin Patch in the Anza Borrego Desert in Southern California- lots of pumpkins but not the kind we are used to!

The Pumpkin Patch is an area with many spherical-shaped rocks, about the size of an average pumpkin. The sign tells us how these ‘pumpkins’ were made:

This unique landscape is the result of wind and water continuously eroding the surface soil and revealing these globular sandstone concretions.

Photographer Floris van Breugel gave me special permission to use his beautiful photograph of the Pumpkin Patch. You can see more of his wonderful photography at

pumpkin-patch-anza-borrego-20090501_0024So, after experiencing the beauty of this place, I was inspired to create my own ‘Pumpkin Patch’ with a recipe for Pumpkin, Pancetta and Sage Soup Cooked in a Pumpkin Shell. This involves first making a hearty soup with pumpkin and pancetta, then baking it inside of a hollowed-out pumpkin shell.

I used several small pumpkins for the shell: Orange Sparkler Pumpkins and Mini-Pumpkins. This makes a great company dish as a starter- each guest can eat the soup out of their very own pumpkin! When the soup is all gone, you can then eat the pumpkin shell if you wish.


Basic Preparation for the Pumpkin

  • To cut the top off the pumpkin, first draw a line around the top, then make a cut placing the knife at a 45 degree angle.

IMG_5965Remove the top and remove all seeds and stringy bits. After baking the pumpkin (see instructions below), the pulp becomes softer and you can then scrape out more of the inside, if desired.

Cut pumpkin

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Pumpkin, Pancetta and Sage Soup Cooked in a Pumpkin Shell
Recipe type: Starter or Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
A hearty roast pumpkin and pancetta soup baked inside individual pumpkin shells.
  • 4 small pumpkins
  • 1 cup diced pancetta
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 - 15.5 ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup smoked turkey (or ham) meat
  • 2 tbsp sage, chopped finely
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the Garnish:
  • Diced pancetta pieces, cooked and crumbled
  • Whole Sage leaves
  • Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 360 F.
  2. Prepare the pumpkins. Cut out the tops of the pumpkins and scrape out all seeds and stringy bits. Save the seeds to roast and serve later as garnish for the soup (pepitas).*
  3. Brush the outside of the pumpkins with olive oil; season the insides with salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until the pumpkins start to soften. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  4. To prepare the soup, sauté the pancetta pieces in oil in a large pot until crisp. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic pieces and stir over medium-high heat until they soften.
  5. Now add the beans, chicken stock, pumpkin purée, smoked turkey leg (or ham), sage and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
  7. Fill each pumpkin shell with the soup and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with the crisp pancetta pieces, Sage leaves and pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). *
  8. *To prepare the pepitas, mix the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl and coat with olive oil. Add seasoning (I used salt and a little chili powder) then roast in the oven for 15 minutes at 360 F.



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  • Joanne
    October 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Oh my gosh, that is so beautiful!! And I love the soup served in little pumpkin bowls. So cute!
    Joanne recently posted…Sticky BunsMy Profile

  • Nathan
    October 27, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Very creative! And looks delicious too. Can’t wait to try making it myself!

  • [email protected]
    October 28, 2013 at 4:44 am

    I haven’t made a pumpkin soup in a pumpkin shell forever. Remember that Paul Bocuse recipe from the 70s? Totally wonderful, though super rich. This looks much more sane! Good stuff – thanks.
    [email protected] recently posted…Winter Squash GratinMy Profile

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    October 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    How adorable yet scrumptious does this look Fran! 😀
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  • Rachel
    October 29, 2013 at 3:11 am

    I absolutely love this Fran. It looks fantastic. I have got to have a go at doing this. Thank you for the recipe Fran 🙂
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  • Anneli Faiers
    October 30, 2013 at 3:15 am

    Mmmm, gorgeous and hearty! I love the addition of smoked turkey or ham in there alongside the pancetta. I bet this soup is like having a belly hug. Stunning Fran x
    Anneli Faiers recently posted…The Tale of the Elegant Oxtail (Deluxe Cottage Pie)My Profile

  • Amanda (@lambsearshoney)
    October 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Wow – that is one amazing looking landscape! Oh, and the soup looks great too. I love those little round pumpkins – but I don’t think I’ve seen them here in Australia.
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    • Fran
      October 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks Amanda. No, I haven’t seen these small pumpkins either in Australia. However, the U.S. is ‘pumpkin-mad’ now, with big and small pumpkins, and even ‘mottled’ ones. They are backed-up in my kitchen- I’ve got to do some more pumpkin-cooking soon!
      Fran recently posted…Pumpkin, Pancetta and Sage Soup Cooked in a Pumpkin ShellMy Profile

  • Lizzy (Good Things)
    October 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Oh now that’s just beautiful…. the place and the recipe!
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  • Simply Sweet Justice
    November 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Wow, what gorgeous pictures! This is so creative!
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  • Renee Dwyer
    November 5, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    What a gorgeous recipe and adventure you are on 🙂
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  • GourmetGetaways
    November 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I am going to look for these cute little pumpkins today! Your recipe looks so special and I am sure the flavours would be wonderful!.
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