Bear Paw – Pumpkin Soup for Halloween

The author getting ready to make an unusual Halloween meal from pumpkin and some more uncommon ingredients.

 When cleaning out my freezer in expectation of shortly having some fresh deer meat to put into it, I found a set of last year’s bear paws that I had planned to cook, but had not gotten around to doing. What better time to work up a dish with them than Halloween week?

 Wanting to keep this a nearly all-American meal, I picked a fresh puff-ball mushroom out of  my cemetery plot from behind the house, bought a small pumpkin and looked for ginseng root.  I could not find that locally (It grows in North Georgia, but not where I live.), so I substituted ginger. I also added two large cans of  tomatoes, two small cans of  whole kernel corn and an onion. I selected an interesting hatchet  from Fox for pumpkin busting, and I was soon videoing my first experience with cooking bear paws.  There are Asiatic recipes for bear paws, but I was interested in seeing what could be done with home-grown ingredients.

  I documented my cooking with a 15-minute video which you can see on YouTube at: and cut this down to the 5-minute blog version which appears below.

Front and rear bear paws.

The paws yielded more gelatin than meat. In  in my next effort I will add a pound of  lean bear meat to the recipe as well as another similar-size pumpkin. Alternatives could get quite fancy including using the gelatin to make any of a variety of  aspics such as a chilled tomato aspic ( see Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking  which calls for boiling calf feet as the source of gelatin). I found that when the soup was refrigerated it set up firmly, but reliquified when warmed.

  In the longer version of the video, I said that I was going to feed the boiled foot bones to my dogs, but thought better of it when I examined them more closely.  Dogs cannot (or will not) crush these small rounded bones and would be tempted to swallow them whole, and they could be choked.  I took the precaution of pre-crushing the bones with a two-pound hammer and then mixed them with dry dog food. When I feed dogs bones, I dole them out a few at a time and then follow with bulky dry food.  My dogs are Labs and do not have any problems processing occasional bones through their digestive systems using them as I do as an occasional treat that is always supplemented with dry food.

Bear paw soup served with iced tea, homemade pear wine and a sugar-depleated pear pie from the fermentation mash.

  I describe my initial attempt as yielding a soup that was  “eatable, but I would not go out of my way for it.” This means that it is a product of average quality that could easily be served to other people, but not “out of the ordinary.”  It taste like a typical tomato-based vegetable soup without much meat. One could almost pass this off as a vegetarian soup if you omitted the lean meat and only used the paw-derived gelatin – an unkind act for a hard-core vegetarian, but a way to get some animal fats and protein into them.  Most people these days have no idea that gelatins are an animal-derived product. 

  “It comes from a box, dosen’t it?” Yes, but some animal died to produce it. I just derive my gelatin from somewhat closer to the source.  If I am going to take an animal’s life, I am going to use as much of it as possible.  Often this leads to some interesting adventures in wild-game cooking, as occurred here.

One thought on “Bear Paw – Pumpkin Soup for Halloween

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