The Challenge: Pumpkin Soup

January 27, 2011

Pumpkin soup is one of the better known savory pumpkin recipes and for good reason. It’s hearty, delicious, and very versatile. Since pumpkins and other squashes grow easily in various climates, here’s a sampling of pumpkin soups from around the world.

YUM!

All of these recipes can be made from cubed, fresh pumpkin or, if you already have it, from pumpkin puree for a shorter cooking time. If you are using cubed, fresh pumpkin, I recommend an immersion blender so you don’t have to transfer your soup to a blender in batches. They are pretty inexpensive (about $20) and absolutely wonderful to have if you regularly make pureed soups at home.

Cubed Pumpkin

General Steps

Each recipe roughly follows this pattern:

Step 1: Saute vegetables and seasoning

Step 2: Add broth/liquid and simmer

Step 3: Blend well when pumpkin is tender

Traditional

This simple soup is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and if you’ve never had pumpkin soup before, it’s a great place to start.

Warm 3 tbsp butter or oil in a medium saucepan then add 3 lbs of sugar pumpkin (peeled, seeded, and cubed) and 1 medium onion roughly chopped. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes then add 1 tbsp fresh sage (or 1 tsp rosemary, your choice), salt, and pepper to taste and cook for another minute or so. Add 5 cups of broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer partially covered for 30 minutes. Blend well and stir in 1 cup of cream.

Chipotle

Spice up the previous recipe with some south of the border flavor. Simply add 1 tbsp of minced garlic at the beginning and when you are ready to serve, top each bowl with tortilla strips and any chipotle sauce or smokey salsa you like.

Thai

A sweet and spicy combination

Here’s yet another spicy alternative. Simmer (do not boil) 1 cup coconut milk with 3 cups diced pumpkin,  2 – 3 cloves minced garlic, 3 dried cayenne peppers (less if fresh), 1 tsp ginger, and 1 tsp salt. Add 2 – 3 cups of broth depending on desired consistency. Simmer until pumpkin is very soft before blending. Top with lime juice, lime zest, ground peanuts, and chopped cilantro.

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Pumpkin Bisque

Chop 4 celery stocks, 2 large tomatoes, 1 large onion, and peel 6 cloves of garlic. Melt 1 stick of butter in a large soup pot then add the onions and celery and mince the garlic into the pot. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are clear. Next add 4 cups of broth, 4 cups of water (or all broth), the tomatoes, 4 cups of pumpkin puree, 4 bay leaves, 8 dried cayenne peppers with the tops chopped off, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon.

A pot full of color!

Bring the pot to a boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Once the vegetables are soft, remove the bay leaves and cayenne peppers. At this point you can use an immersion blender to puree if desired, but I like to keep it chunky for color. To finish season with salt and pepper and stir in 2 cups of heavy cream and heat through while stirring.

Spicy Pumpkin Bisque

The result looks like a cross between a chowder and a Thai curry, but is not overly creamy. This soup is perfectly balanced between the sweet, salty, spicy, and creamy flavors. It is definitely a recipe that I will repeat next year.

Indian Spice

While spice is in the name, this is actually quite mild and I only really call it Indian because of the cumin flavor. I would say this one requires a bit of extra effort because of the gastrique, but it is also the most delicious of this group of recipes after the pumpkin bisque.

Soup

Heat 2 tbsp peanut oil in a large pot then add 2 cups chopped onion and 3 tsp chopped garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until slightly browned. Next add 1 cup thinly sliced carrot, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper and cook for another minute before adding 4 lbs pumpkin (peeled, seeded, and cubed) and 4 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Blend until smooth and then add a 1/2 cup of cream (or more if you like).

Gastrique

While the vegetable/broth mix is simmering, make the gastrique in a separate sauce pan by bringing 1 cup maple syrup (or molasses) and 1 cup sherry wine vinegar to a rolling boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool and stir in the juice of 3 lemons.

When you serve top each bowl with 2 – 3 healthy spoonfuls of the gastrique in a swirled pattern.

Indian Spice Soup Ready to EAT!

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