I’m not sad that our rafting adventure was cut short: because of the Budapest water police, I was able to travel to new places and make some incredible new friends in Romania before leaving Europe.  Through them, I was able to get authentic city (Bucharest), mountain, and countryside experiences during my favorite season of the year: fall.  The time at the village house was one of my favorite days of traveling thus far: we sat in old airplane chairs while soaking up the sun, cooked over an open fire, and played ridiculous drinking games with homemade liquor; this was also the first time in my 24 years of life that I was told, “You’re so f*#&ing old” by a teenager, but that’s beside the point.  Cooking over an open fire with fresh ingredients from the garden is always a memorable culinary experience, whether you’re the chef or just an eater, and I wish that we would have thought to do this when we were cycling across Europe.  Working with what we had, I put together a (damn good) pumpkin stew, which I refined two weeks later with the help of my Ma’s modern culinary tools (and the grocery store).  Enjoy!

Prep time: 25-30 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes


  • 3 c pumpkin “innards” 
  • 5 c water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chives
  • 5 small sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic gloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1/3 c cream (optional)
  • 1 oz walnuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/174 Celsius.  Chop the top off of your pumpkin, and scoop the innards out.  Separate the membranous bits from the seeds, and scoop out a centimeter or so of the newly hallowed pumpkin.  Set seeds aside on a baking tray to dry for a few minutes; then, lightly salt them and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over low heat.  Add garlic, sage, and rosemary, and cook for a minute before adding the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.  The pumpkin innards will break down, but you can hand blend the broth to create a silky, creamy soup.  Serve hot and garnish with a sage leaf and chives.

Yields 5 servings

The perfect fall pumpkin soup

The perfect fall pumpkin soup