Pumpkin Bisque

Cucurbita maxima 'Prizewinner' is one of the pumpkin cultivars favored by gardeners attempting to grow the world's largest pumpkin. Glossy skin in dark orange with a classic shape and ribbing makes these 100- to 300-pound pumpkins a favorite of gardeners attempting to win pumpkin-growing contests. This cultivar is a hybrid developed by the Burpee Seed Company, and it continues the long and distinguished legacy begun when 18-year-old W. Atlee Burpee started the business in 1876 in Philadelphia.

The competition for growing the largest pumpkin — there are dozens of contests around the country — relies on seeds of genetic superiority, excellent soils, frequent irrigation, weekly fertilization, and constant attention. Some of the most recent winners have perfected techniques to graft two vines together so that double the nourishment is supplied to the single fruit allowed to grow. "Secret" fertilizer recipes range from "teas" brewed from a number of different plant and animal parts (fragrant is too polite a term for the odor) to those favoring the recipes developed by NASA to grow plants in space habitats.

Not for the small garden, these plants get enormous. Seeds from previous winners are sold for thousands of dollars.

Pumpkin Bisque

4 cups vegetable broth

1 can of pumpkin (29oz)

1 ½ cups of heavy cream

2 tablespoons curry powder

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground allspice

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
to garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Arrange pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until seeds begin to brown.

Bring broth and canned pumpkin to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in curry powder, brown sugar, allspice, and cinnamon. Simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Add cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds to serve.