Semi-DIY Decor and Pumpkin Spinach Soup

This has been a week! The Huz has been on the awful second shift at work, so I’ve had my evenings free. Evenings to get into some mischief. Mischief which includes decorating The House and making soup from scratch.

Yep. My kind of mischief.

I drove over to Pier 1 the other day because we had a $25 gift card for there AND they had a 10% off coupon on their website. I went to look for a thin shelf or a small table for the end of the hallway, but ended up leaving with some amazing curtains and a pillow to match.

131017 curtain pillow

Did you know that sometimes businesses will sell curtains one panel per pack???? I sure didn’t. Doesn’t seem logical.

The curtains I found ended up being one such pack. I figured that I could probably just order the other one online, but it turned out that I was accidentally more frugal than I thought and got a pattern that was on clearance. The closest one was about 2 hours away in Columbus, OH. I opted for the easy route.

We have pretty great blinds on our windows, so I was looking for the curtains for color and accent rather than usefulness. The single panel was wide enough that I could make two panels myself. Got out the scissors, sewing machine, and went to town.

131017 curtains

Oh, and that shelf I was talking about? Well, I grabbed a white one from Target (and that curtain rod) with some leftover gift cards from the wedding and spray painted it green. Nothing like a pop of color in an unexpected spot.

IMG_20131014_222131P.S. High Fives for awesome hubbies who will hang shelves and curtain rods on their mornings before they go to work. I love our teamwork.

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And now for the soup!

A man at church was giving out bags of spinach from his garden. It looked soooo good. I couldn’t say no. We had picked up some sugar pumpkins at a nearby dairy farm and I have been aching for an excuse to hack into them. I found this recipe online and I’m only posting it as a reference to my starting point. I did things differently, but included most of the same ingredients. The original recipe is more for a creamy soup, since it calls for turning all the veggies into a puree. Also, I added chicken to mine, because I can’t get away with giving something without meat to the Huz.

Pumpkin Spinach Soup

Ingredients

2.5 lbs chicken breast, cubed (smaller pieces are better)
1 sweet onion
3 cups of cubed pumpkin (can be varied sizes, this is intensive) It took half a sugar pumpkin for me, probably great for leftover pieces from carving. remove skin.
4 cups raw spinach
1 32 oz box of broth (chicken or vegetable is fine. I used chicken)
2 cups water
1 tbsp butter
2 medium-sized tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 can of pumpkin puree
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Prep the pumpkin by removing the seeds and stringy innards and cutting apart the sides. As stated before, this is intensive and can take quite some time. There are easy ways to remove the skin by using wet paper towel and sticking them in the microwave. I was short on time, so, I just cut away, dicing as I went and then cutting the skin off at the last. (Fun side project: as you pull out the seeds, toss them into a colander and rinse. Be sure to get all the gunk off of them, then set aside between paper towels to dry – recommended dry time is one day. Toast later!)

131017 pumpkin

Dice the onion and garlic. Saute them in butter in a large pot on the stove over medium heat until the onion turns translucent.

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In a pan, cook the diced chicken until white on all sides. Set aside while the soup is prepped.

Once the onion is cooked, add the pumpkin, diced tomatoes, broth, water, pumpkin puree, chicken, and spices. I cut back one some of the spices because I wasn’t using as much liquid, but feel free to go at it. My end result was a very mellow flavoring, but pleasant. The Huz can’t handle stuff that’s too spicy.  (If you’re still cooking the chicken or cutting tomatoes, just add as you have it ready. This part is pretty flexible.) Add more water as needed to cover all the ingredients. Stir then cover the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cut up the spinach and toss into a pan to cook until it wilts. Check that the vegetables in the soup are tender. The pumpkin should have a potato-like consistency. In fact, the Huz thought they were potato until I told him it was pumpkin. Score! If the veggies are tender, stir the soup and add spinach.

131017 soup

I apologize for the lack of times in this recipe. I was given none, and since I spent a lot of time cutting my pumpkin while the soup was already going, I can’t remember how long it actually took me. All I know is that this soup has all the feel of gourmet.  If I could do it all over, I would have chopped up more chicken and chopped it up smaller (I did not use the above listed 2.5 lbs.) You can also do this without any meat, but you would probably need to add more pumpkin chunks to compensate.

Anyway, I discovered that potentially the best thing about cooking (soup in particular) is that you can take a recipe and make it your own. You can’t really do that with baking. I love my rules and parameters a lot, but I liked being free to improvise a bit with this recipe.

This batch made enough for me to freeze half of it in a gallon freezer bag and still have servings for myself and my husband for probably three nights. I know what I’m packing for lunch!

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Side Notes:

131017 sunflowers

So this is happening right now, in our front garden. Those suckers were all supposed to be less than 3 feet tall. 4 absolute max. I’ll be harvesting those seeds once they keel over completely. But right now, they’re just so pretty and as it’s getting so much colder, they make me very happy.

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This verse humbles me. I feel like I can keep a close watch over my mouth for the most part. I can get complainy like the rest of us, but the mouth seems to be fairly easy to keep tabs on. The heart, however, that’s a horse of a different color. Lord, help me to monitor what my heart dwells on. Out of the heart flows life and I want mine to be a life of praise and joy…not bitterness and discontent.

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Pardon the poor handwriting, but I found this fabulous piece in my box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It’s like they know me.

Have a great weekend!!

 

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2 thoughts on “Semi-DIY Decor and Pumpkin Spinach Soup

  1. The verse you had in this post was my college’s benediction. We said it after every chapel service. Brings back memories 🙂 I wish I could make that soup for Chris, but he’s such a picky eater it is hard to find recipes that he likes.

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