If you're in a rush but you want to give your family a home-cooked meal that's satisfying and easy to make, try pumpkin soup. Pumpkins are available fresh from early to late fall. With a little chopping and peeling done the night before, all that's left is to pop the ingredients into your slow cooker. It cooks while you're busy with other things. Serve the soup with crunchy bread and a salad of spinach and bacon dressing to pick up the smokiness of the ham hocks in the soup.
Choose a pumpkin that is meant for eating rather than for decoration. The large pumpkins in the produce department have been bred to be big, not full of flavor. Use them for holiday decorations and carving. The smaller cooking pumpkins are usually with the squashes. Check the pumpkin for any soft spots or discolorations.
Scrub the outside of the pumpkin with a stiff brush and soapy water to remove any dirt or debris. Rinse. Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and strings. Cut into 4-inch square chunks and peel the chunks. Then cut into 1-inch chunks. The bigger chunks are easier to peel.
Chop the onion and garlic finely.
Add the pumpkin, onion, garlic, thyme, ham hocks and vegetable broth to the slow cooker. Salt and pepper to taste. Put it on low if you're going to be gone all day or on high if you want a faster cook time. Follow the instructions that came with the slow cooker for specific directions.
Test the pumpkin for doneness by poking it with a fork. If the pumpkin is soft, remove the ham hocks. Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher or use a hand-held immersion blender while the pumpkin is still in the slow cooker. You could also remove the pumpkin and put it in a blender, puree and then return it to the slow cooker.
Blend the cream with the flour. Put the cream into the pumpkin soup. Let it come back up to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes for the flour to cook and thicken the soup.