There are two sides to a pumpkin, particularly when it comes pureed in the form of a soup: the sweet and the savory. The sweet pumpkin soup recipe is one we are probably quite familiar with; it comes with lots of cream, a semblance of pumpkin pie spice and is sweet enough to qualify for the end of the meal as dessert. While this version definitely has its place among wintery comfort foods, I have to admit, I'm in the savory pumpkin camp. When accompanied by the right spices, pumpkin flavor can become complex and deep with character.
That being said, this spicy pumpkin soup recipe is a family favorite. When winter squash and pumpkins start sprouting up at the farmers market, alongside countless apple varieties, I know it's time to make my favorite pumpkin soup. I love it for its nuanced, spicy flavor, its light texture and perhaps most importantly, how happy it makes everyone (even my vegan sister!).
1 Sugar Pumpkin, about 2 lbs
2 leek stalks or about 1 lb
5 garlic cloves, peeled
Coriander seed, 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper, a pinch
Cracked black pepper, 1 tsp
Cumin, 2 tbsp
Turmeric, 1 tbsp
1 Can of Light Coconut Milk (try to get BPA-free)
Olive oil, 1/4 cup
Cilantro, 1 bunch (optional)
Salt, to taste
From the Organic Authority Files
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the pumpkin into 2 halves and scoop out all the seeds (don't toss these!) Then, slice the pumpkin into 6 pieces total. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. In the meantime, slice the leek into 1/2" rounds and toss in a bowl with the whole garlic cloves, olive oil and all the spices. Pour onto a second baking sheet and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
Once the pumpkin is out of the oven, peel off the skin with the edge of a paring knife. Place the pumpkin in a pot with the roasted leek mixture, the coconut milk and 4 cups of water and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Then, using an immersion blender, puree the mixture for about 5 minutes or until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. (Wait for the mixture to cool first as the heat will make the soup explode through your blender lid).
Then comes a very important step. Using a mesh sieve, chinois or metal colander, strain the soup using a whisk. This is an important step and one which will transform your pumpkin soup recipe from hearty in a bad way to silky smooth. There will be a fair amount of fiber left behind. That's okay. Just try to get all the liquid through. Once it's strained, return the soup back to the stove over medium heat. Adjust with water for a thin, soupy consistency rather than a puree, and season with salt and pepper. Voila!
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Image by Sabrina Pashtan