Each October we witness an onset of sugary pumpkin treats: pies, muffins, lattes, pancakes … yet the gourd has so much more potential outside of baking. The recipe below showcases a different way to use pumpkin. I did need to add some sweet apple cider to balance out the pumpkin’s bitterness. This is not always necessary, but sometimes the flesh of baking pumpkins is just as bitter as its jack-o-lantern counterparts. To cook a pumpkin, preheat oven to 400 F. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds (save them to toast!). Place the pumpkin halves cut-side down on a pan and bake for about an hour or until tender when pierced with a fork. Scoop out flesh, discard skin, and puree until smooth.
Unfortunately, if you want to use this soup recipe for Thanksgiving, you may have trouble finding a pie pumpkin – they usually disappear after Halloween. No worries – substitute with butternut squash. Butternut tastes almost identical and is slightly sweeter, requiring less sugar to be added. If you want to use real pumpkin next year, be sure to buy a few to save for the holidays. If stored in a cool, dry place, they usually last through the new year. Otherwise, you can cook them and freeze the puree. If you are using the puree for pies, go ahead and mix in all the spices and sugars to the puree now, seal them in airtight jars, and store them in the fridge – the sugar will preserve them until Christmas!
1/4 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (for a sweeter soup, substitute with pureed sweet potato or butternut squash)
1/2 cup sweetened applesauce (for thicker texture), apple juice, or apple cider
4 cups chicken stock
leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
leaves from 1 sprig fresh sage or 1/4 tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt (may need more depending on amount of salt in chicken stock)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 cup heavy cream or whole milk (optional)
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium and sauté onions for a few minutes until translucent. Transfer to a blender or food processor and add all the remaining ingredients except the cream. Blend until smooth. Pour soup into a pot and heat thoroughly over medium-high. Reduce heat and stir in cream. Taste and add any necessary corrections:
If too bitter … add more sweet
If too bland … add more salt or herbs
If too thin … thicken by simmering or blending in more pumpkin/potato
If too thick … add more stock, juice/cider, or cream
If just right … eat!!!
Bon Stamppetit ~ Sarah Bogan