From Soup to Soap: Pumpkin, Anise, Ginger and Cardamom

My mother, Sophie Maxwell is an amazing cook and the author of the column, "Offerings from a Humble Kitchen" in Stir magazine—although her kitchen isn't so humble now that she and Dad bought the condo in South Beach, Florida.

And that humble kitchen is now my soap making studio.

One of my favorite recipes that Mom concocted was a pumpkin soup with anise, ginger and cardamom. As it simmered, the insanely heavenly fragrance wafted through the apartment.

The other day, when I was out walking Socrates, there was an autumn chill in the air and I got a real craving for the soup. But since Mom is now over a thousand miles away and I don't cook (really!)(really! the air a real aumutumcrates, there was a real aumutum chill in the air, I decided to turn her soup into soap.

It's not her recipe exactly—she uses chicken stock—which I don't think would work well in a soap—but I did use pumpkin and a blend of essential oils reminiscent of the soup fragrance.

The recipe for the blend looks strange on paper, but I literally got it by adding the essential oils a drop at a time:

.2 oz. + 27 drops fresh anise essential oil
.1 oz. + 7 drops ginger essential oil
.2 oz. + 10 drops cardamom essential oil
10 drops black pepper essential oil

The recipe for the soap itself calls for only 14 ounces of oil since I used an ounce of pumpkin puree (not that pumpkin pie filling—I didn't want any nutmeg or cinnamon interfering with the fragrance) and I was too lazy to do a water reduction. I had to wait an extra day to take it out of the mold, but that didn't bother me) and I wanted it all to fit in my one-pound-for-me-only mold from Bramble Berry.

1 oz. castor oil
5 oz. olive oil
4 oz. coconut oil
4 oz. Nutiva red palm oil

1 oz. pumpkin puree

5.3 oz. water
2 oz. lye

4.5 oz. essential oil blend

A word about palm oil. Many soap makers are boycotting palm oil because of the deforestation that's killing so many orangutans, but Nutiva is made from fruit grown on second and third generation sustainable family farms in Ecuador (orangutans don't live in Ecuador), so I'm 'buy-cotting' red palm oil that's helping local farmers.

And using red palm oil resulted in that fabulous orange color. Pumpkin on its own wouldn't have been quite so intense.

I added the pumpkin puree at trace, but before I did that, I poured out about an ounce of soap, added a little charcoal for color and corn meal for exfoliation and dropped it in randomly for contrast.

After the soap went into the mold, my 'humble soap making studio' smelled incredible and I was still craving my mother's pumpkin soup, but I made do with Chinese delivery. 


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