Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Soup Season

Summer lasts a long time in southeast Texas (about 6 months) so a lot of the time, my cooking is ingredient assembly, like salad. It's just too hot to do much else. But it's finally cool enough for one of my favorite things: soup.

Is that an anti-climax? It shouldn't be. Soup has a lot to recommend it. It's a wonderful way to use lots of vegetables, it's an economical use of leftovers, and (as long as you aren't loading it up with cheese and cream) it's low in calories. It tastes good. Plus there's nothing quite as soul satisfying as sitting inside on a cold day with a hot bowl of soup.

In the words of Lewis Carroll:

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Soo - oop of the e - e - evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!


Chipotle Pumpkin Soup
or what to do with that pumpkin you bought in October

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo, 1 for mild, 2 for spicy), chopped
  • 8 cups chopped, cooked pumpkin* (1 7-8 pound cooking pumpkin to yield 8 cups cooked pumpkin, or 3 15-ounce cans of canned pumpkin)
  • 4 to 6 cups chicken stock, depending on desired thickness and how thick your pumpkin purée is (use vegetable stock for vegetarian option, can sub water for some of the stock)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Toasted, shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Cilantro
  • Creme fresca, creme fraiche, sour cream or yogurt
 *To cook fresh pumpkin, use a good cooking pumpkin (i.e. sugar pumpkin, fairytale pumpkin, hubbard, or kabocha pumpkin), cut in half, scoop out the seeds, place the pumpkin cut side down on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for about an hour, or until soft. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh or cut away the skin.

cooked pumpkin - look at all the liquid that's come out!
 1. Heat oil in a large pot (8-quart) on medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, and chipotle, cook for 1 minute more.

Onion and chipotle pepper

2. Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.

oven roasted pumpkin
3. If you are working with raw pumpkin seeds, now would be a good time to toast them. (If your pumpkin seeds are already toasted, skip this step.) Just spread them out in an even layer in a frying pan on medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon while toasting, until the pumpkin seeds are fragrant and are lightly browned. Remove to a bowl.

4. Remove the soup from heat. Working in batches of 2 cups each, purée the soup in batches, holding down the lid the your blender tightly while puréeing, and starting on a slow speed. Return the puréed soup to the pot. If you have an immersion blender (surely the best kitchen invention since the electric toaster) you can purée it right in the pot.

5. Add lime juice. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt, cumin, oregano, or chipotle to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more stock or water to desired consistency.

Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), crema fresca drizzled over the top, and chopped cilantro.
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!


  1. Really want to try this soup, but every time I give pumpkin another shot, I find I still can't seem to like it. Think this would work with butternut or acorn squash?

    1. I don't see why not. The main thing is to adjust the amount of liquid, depending on how much you get from the vegetable in question.