Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bulghur and Pumpkin Challenge

I was excited to see the ingredients in the Foodie Fights challenge were pumpkin and bulghur.

As a child, I ate more bulghur than white rice, so I'm very familiar with the toasty grain.

Yes, I was that weird kid in school with homemade fruit leather and a thermos of chicken noodle soup at lunch.

And soup with fat, homemade noodles, not the skinny, trademarked noodles.

After much thought and cookbook research I decided to make a variation of Topig (Little Balls), an Armenian appetizer, and a sparkly Mexican pumpkin-lime soup.

Some flavors, like cinnamon, ginger, lime and pumpkin, are meant to be together.


Bulghur (wheat)Balls

1 cup raw bulghur

2 cups boiling water

3 med. potatoes, peeled and quartered


1 med. onion chopped

1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ginger
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup raisins
1 Tbs honey
1 egg beaten with a dash of salt and cinnamon
Cover bulghur with the boiling water and let it steam, covered, until the bulghur is tender and the water is absorbed. Boil the potatoes until tender.

Meanwhile, saute the onions in 1/3 cup olive oil. When they are translucent and soft mix in the nuts and spices. Add the raisins and saute, stirring, until the mixture is hot. Remove from heat.

Drain the potatoes and reserve the potato water for the soup. Mash the potatoes. Combine them with the bulghur, onion-nut mixture and the honey. Add more salt and spices to taste. When cool enough to handle, form the mixture into little balls, about 2 inch in diameter.
Let bulghur balls rest for 20mins.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Dip each ball into the egg, salt and cinnamon mixture. Place on a greased or Silpat covered cookie sheet and bake for 15-25 mins., until balls begin to toast on top.

Pumpkin-Lime Soup

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cup potato water

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp ground cloves

3 cups peeled and diced firm pumpkin or butternut squash

1/2 cup lime juice

2 Tbs olive oil

1 med. onion, chopped

1 spicy dried chile or 2-3 fresh, diced chiles

28oz can of diced tomatoes

Add to taste: Hickory salt or 1/8 tsp liquid smoke, salt and pepper.

Toppings: Cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, thinly sliced lime.


Saute onion with olive oil in a large stockpot. After a few minutes add chiles. When onion is translucent remove from heat and add minced garlic.

Add all of the remaining ingredients and return stockpot to the stove. Turn up heat to med-high. Cover the pot and let simmer until the pumpkin is fork tender, 15-20 mins.

Adjust salt and pepper to personal taste and serve. Offer soup with fresh or dried cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds and sliced limes.

To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, add bulghur ball and optional toppings.

Notes and Confessions:

Unless you had an unconventional childhood like me, you might not know about bulghur. Bulghur has a very high nutritional value. It's high in protein, fiber and is low in fat and calories. It is also rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, phosphorous and manganese. Its B vitamins complement the folate in vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli or brussels sprouts. Furthermore, Bulghur does not lose much of its nutrients from its minimal processing (steaming). It retains its high protein and vitamin count.

Yummy! And good for you!

Bulghur is wheat berries (seeds) that have been precooked, dried and cracked. Bulghur should never be boiled like rice or pasta. Simply, pour boiling water over bulghur, cover and allow to steam.

So in this recipe I used:

Honey - from my Grandfather's bees. He died when I was 4, so this honey is a non replenishable commodity

Egg - from Butter, my pet chicken

Sage - from my garden

Pumpkin - from my garden

Onion - from my garden

Chile - from my garden, dried by me

Potato - from my garden

Garlic - I used one big clove of elephant garlic, from my garden

I love this soup!

I ate 4 bowls. Honestly, I couldn't eat it fast enough. It has so many flavors and textures: Nutty bulghur, rich pine nuts, sweet, creamy pumpkin and sparkly lime.
The pumpkin and lime really complement each other well. The tart lime brings out the sweet pumpkin flavor. The spices are just decadent

Multiple layers of flavor and texture. Yummy!

And the bulghur balls are delicious in the soup or just eaten on their own. I'm eating them straight out of the refrigerator!

Yum! Yum!
This was so much fun!
Check out all the competitors entries and then vote!


  1. The soup looks and sounds delicious!
    Good luck on the Foodie Fight.

  2. I love the combination of flavors in this soup. I wonder if my 4 year old would eat a squash soup if it wasn't pureed? I think part of why he enjoys eating it is that I use the immersion blender to make them.

    Good Luck.


  3. Love how the soup has so many beautiful bright colours in it... and it sounds like it's as delicious as it is pretty, too. Good luck with the Foodie Fight!

  4. Thanks everyone!
    I had fun making it, even if I didn't win.

  5. what a creative use of ingredients! I posted a pumpkin kibbe recipe a while back which is a traditional dish especially for lent but I would have never thought of this combination. Great job!