Pumpkin soup is one of my favorite meals this time of year. To me it feels like I’m getting away with something, almost like I’m eating pumpkin pie in liquid form – just without the sugar. (Incidentally, I made a pumpkin pie one Thanksgiving and forgot to add the sugar. I have yet to live it down.) Now, like pumpkin pie, this soup is bursting with warm autumn flavors like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, but unlike pumpkin pie, it’s incredibly healthy. So this Halloween why not put your conscience to rest, fill up on this festive soup, and leave the candy bowl to the trick-or-treaters. (Oh, who am I kidding, go ahead and stuff your face – it’s Halloween!)
How to pick your pumpkin:
There is a large variety of pumpkins grown all over the world, and come October, all of them seem to find their way to our front porches. Pumpkin patches and grocery stores alike are selling more and more colors and sizes of gordes with each passing year, but the two most popular ones that you’ll always see are the large, ribbed carving pumpkins (also known as Cinderella or Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins), and the small, smooth pie pumpkins (a.k.a. Sugar or Sweetie Pie pumpkins). Obviously, you’re going to want to get the latter of the two for this recipe. Here’s a little visual for you:
Not only are the pie pumpkins smaller and more easy to manage in your kitchen, but they’re much sweeter and more flavorful than the larger varieties. If in doubt, just remember: if its too big to carry, its too big to cook.
- 1 (2-3) pound pie pumpkin
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 white onion, peeled and cut through the stem into 8 wedges
- 6 mushroom, stemmed and halved (baby bellas, shiitake, or button work best)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp chili powder (optional)
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp sour cream
- grated parmesan cheese for serving
Roast pumpkin wedges and vegetables for 30 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before proceeding. Once the pumpkins are cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to separate the flesh of the pumpkin from its skin; discard skins.
Transfer pumpkin and vegetables to a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Add chicken or vegetable stock to pot along with a bay leaf. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat. With an immersion hand blender, purée soup directly in pot until smooth. (Or, alternatively, working in 2-3 batches, purée soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return to pot.)
Add garlic powder, paprika, chili powder (if using), salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Mix in sour cream, then taste the soup and season as necessary.
Sidekick: This soup tastes amazing with a Sam Adams Boston Lager or a chilled glass of Chardonnay, a dry Riesling, or a sweet Gewürztraminer.
HOW TO ROAST PUMPKIN SEEDS:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Clean pumpkin seeds thoroughly. Place seeds in a pot of salted water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain seeds and spread them out on a clean kitchen towel; allow to dry. Toss dry seeds with 1 tsp of olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Generously sprinkle with salt or another desired seasoning (see suggestions below) and shake pan to coat. Roast for 10-15 minutes or until lightly toasted – be sure to keep an eye on the oven as they can go from golden brown to jet black in a matter of a few minutes.
Suggested Pumpkin Seed Seasonings:
- Old Bay Seasoning Salt (or another brand like Johnny’s)
- Chili powder, paprika, and salt blend (½ tsp of each)
- Truffle salt
- Cocoa powder (½ tsp), sugar (1 Tbsp), cinnamon (¼ tsp), and a pinch of salt, blended