Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

It's almost Halloween and it is also pumpkin time. If your area is anything like mine then many
churches have big piles of pumpkins for sale. Whole Foods even has them for 3 for 12 bucks.
Unfortunately, the great majority of these pumpkins and their nutrition will be wasted. They'll
be carved into a jack 'o lantern and the seeds will be thrown in the trash. What a waste!
Pumpkins make a wonderful soup that is just the ticket on these cool fall days and even if you
don't want soup you can roast the flesh and save it for pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. The seeds
too make a nice treat and they are actually good for you. Be penurious this year with your
pumpkin and don't waste all the goodness it has spent all year storing up for you. After it has
done its job scaring the trick or treaters it can meet a higher purpose and go to its reward
truly fulfilled.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (You need to adjust for your desired level of hotness. A
full 1/4 tsp makes a pretty spicy soup)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional but this will add another dimension of hot)
6 cups of chopped roasted pumpkin (see below on how to roast fresh pumpkin) or if you don't
happen to want to go the trouble of roasting a real pumpkin use 3 (15 oz) cans 100 percent
pumpkin (don't use pumpkin pie mix!)

5 cups of chicken broth (I really like the Swanson Organic Chicken Broth or use vegetable broth

but most commercial vegetable broths are pretty bad.)
2 cups of milk

1/2 cup brown sugar(optional but use it in combination with the heavy cream if you like a sweeter richer soup plus it will tone down the heat some but it does add calories and fat)
1/2 cup heavy cream(optional with brown sugar)

Making it.
Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook,
stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more to release
their fragrance. Add pumpkin and 5 cups of chicken broth; blend well. Bring to a boil then reduce
heat and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. Using a hand blender blend until smooth or transfer soup,
in batches, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.
With the soup on low heat, add brown sugar(if using) and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring to
incorporate. Add cream(if using). If it's a too spicy you can add more cream to cool it down.
Depending on the broth you use you might want to add a teaspoon of salt.
Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle the top of each with toasted pumpkin seeds(recipe below).
This recipe makes enough soup for 8.

How to make pumpkin puréé: cut a sugar pumpkin(the best for this but regular jack'o lantern
pumpkin will do) in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff and set aside, lie face down on a
aluminum foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop
out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use(maybe pumpkin ravioli?)

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

You'll need the seeds from a medium sized pumpkin, hopefully the one you made the soup from.
Frugal, frugal!
Salt and Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Separate the seeds from the stringy stuff. Rinse the seeds.(The stringy stuff goes to the compost pile)
In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water, about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds.
Add a tablespoon of salt for every cup of water. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and drain.
Spread about a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a roasting pan. Spread the drained
seeds in the roasting pan in one layer. Depending on your 'salt tolerance' you might want to
sprinkle them lightly with a little more salt. Bake on the top rack for 20 minutes or until the
seeds begin to brown. When they are brown enough for you, remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a rack. Let the seeds cool before eating or using to garnish the soup. Either crack to
remove the inner seed (a lot of work and in my opinion, unnecessary) or eat whole.

Just one warning. Eating a lot of pumpkin seeds in one sitting can have an effect on ones
digestion. You've been warned.


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