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Since You Asked: Cookin' pumpkin raises questions

Are all pumpkins edible? I have this wonderful pumpkin soup recipe from Saveur magazine that I want to make for Thanksgiving. It calls for a 7-inch Cinderella pumpkin, but if I cannot find that, I want to know if it would be fine with any other pumpkin.

— Bill D., Central Point

"A pumpkin is always, and by definition, round-fruited and edible," according to Amy P. Goldman, author of "The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Grower's Guide to Pumpkins, Squashes and Gourds."

And, says the author, a pumpkin doesn't have to be orange; it can be white, blue or burnt sienna.

Experts do agree that the iconic "field pumpkin" usually carved for jack-o'-lanterns is not appropriate for use in recipes. While technically edible, these are coarse and fibrous without the starches and sugars that make other squashes staple foods of fall and winter.

That said, there are plenty of "pie pumpkins," including the squat, French heirloom variety known as "Cinderella." Reminiscent of Old-World illustrations from fairy tales, this pumpkin often is recommended for its visual appeal. Martha Stewart types like to hollow it out and use it as a serving vessel.

Goldman cites "winter luxury pie" as her favorite but also suggests substituting any squash in recipes calling for pumpkin. Try "buttercup," "Hubbard" (golden, blue or green), "delicious," Sibley, any "Australian blues," "musquee de Provence," "Canada crookneck," "St. Petersburg," kabocha and butternut.

If it's gnocchi you have in mind, the best squash, says Goldman, is "Marina di Chioggia."

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.