November 02, 2010

The Great [Curried] Pumpkin [Soup Recipe]

No, it isn't Halloween any longer. But it's right smack dab in the middle of pumpkin season, so I figured I'd try my hand at making a real (i.e. not from a can) pumpkin dish--Curried Pumpkin Soup.

I was also using my slow cooker for the first time yesterday to make beef and lamb chili for dinner (it turned out wonderfully, thank you), so there was a little bit of soup overkill going on at my house. But if I don't use this time with no job and thus no sense of self-worth wonderful respite from the dreariness of employment to think up and try out new recipes, I will lose what little shred of sanity I have left.

Although canned pumpkin is a nice convenience (as long as it contains actual pumpkin), I've been trying to make myself use the freshest ingredients possible in my cooking (i.e. chopping fresh tomatoes for tomato sauce as opposed to using canned tomatoes). I also have the time on my hands right now to attack a real pumpkin or two.

Curried Pumpkin Soup
  • Two-three generous cups cooked pie pumpkin (don't be a hero...check out these tips on cooking pumpkins)
  • Two cups chicken stock
  • One cup water
  • One onion, roughly chopped
  • Two carrots, roughly chopped
  • Two celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • Three cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 Teaspoon nutmeg
  • Cinnamon to taste 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-large pot. Once the oil is hot, add the mirepoix of carrots, celery, onion, and garlic (well, garlic's not technically part of a mirepoix, but we'll include it so it doesn't get lonely).

2. Sauté the veggies until tender, then stir in the stock, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer for about twenty minutes.

3. Meanwhile, purée your cooked pumpkin with a little bit of nutmeg and cinammon until smooth. Eat a spoonful; it's good. Set purée aside in a medium bowl, but don't wash the food processor bowl. The liquid/veggie combination will catch all that extra pumpkin on the sides of the bowl!
4. Once the twenty minutes have elapsed, scoop the liquid/veggie mixture into the food processor, and set aside (but don't wash) the pot. Purée the veggies until smooth, then transfer back to the pot and turn the heat to low.

5. Whisk in the pumpkin purée, adding as much or as little of the cup of water as you want, depending on your desired soup texture. I added the whole cup. Stir in the spices, turn the heat to reeeeally low, and simmer for at least twenty minutes.

6. Serve with a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds (which you should have, considering you were a big brave dog and used real pumpkins), or a giant dollop of sour cream. T and I are really trying to stay away from dairy, so I went the pumpkin seed route.

I served this to T last night, knowing that he's not a big soup fan. I figured he could at least make some pretend "mmm" noises to make me feel better, but he actually ended up loving it. There's a great balance of sweetness from the pumpkin and a low but intense heat from the curry and red pepper that makes this soup taste pretty complex, if I do say so myself. I also love the fact that the pumpkin adds a creamy texture to the soup that allows us to keep it real (and by real, I mean dairy-free).

Now...what to do with a giant tub of leftover pumpkin purée?

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