Pumpkin Soup


Piping, hot soup and crisp fall days are made for each other - and rich pumpkin soup is the crown prince of autumn.

By FamilyTime

 

Smooth, creamy, hot, and mildly spicy with an underlying sweetness, homemade pumpkin soup is a treasured rite of passage every fall. At no other time of year does it taste so right, so vital, so necessary for our overall well being.

Pumpkins are a symbol of the American autumn - we see them piled in crates at farm stands, nestled amid dry stalks of corn and bales of hay in fall harvest displays, and carved and illuminated for Halloween night.

Nothing symbolizes the brisk days of fall, the changing leaves, and the bright sun better than a deep orange pumpkin. After an invigorating walk, an afternoon raking leaves, or an ambitious bike ride, treat yourself and your family to pumpkin soup.

Making Pumpkin Soup
The simplest pumpkin soup is made with canned pumpkin puree. When you buy this product, make sure you purchase plain puree - you do not want spiced pumpkin pie filling.

Canned pumpkin should be whisked into hot chicken broth (again, you can make a delicious soup using canned broth rather than homemade stock) that has been pureed with sautéed onions. Once the pumpkin is added to the soup, stir in milk, cream, and then season the soup with cinnamon, ginger, and salt and pepper. You're done!

There are numerous variations on the above formula, and as you make the soup, you will come up with your own favorites. Some cooks like to add sweet carrots, sautéing and pureeing them with the onions. Others like to add apples, a splash of sherry, or a pinch of cayenne.

Pumpkin Soup from Scratch
If you want to make pumpkin soup starting with a pumpkin, go for it! Buy small, sweet sugar pumpkins rather than gigantic jack o'lanterns.

A five- to six-pound pumpkin produces about 4 cups of puree, more than enough for most soup recipes (freeze any leftovers to use in pies or muffins).

Cut the pumpkin open, scoop out the seeds and strings, and then slice the pumpkin into large pieces. Lay the pieces, skin-side up, in an oiled baking pan, add a little water, and cover the pan with foil. Roast the pumpkin pieces at 400°F. for 35 to 40 minutes, or until soft.

When the pumpkin is cool, scoop out the flesh and discard the shells.

You can also steam the pumpkin pieces by setting them over a few inches of boiling water and steaming them for 30 to 40 minutes.

If you have a pressure cooker, cook one-inch pieces with 1 ½ cups of water at 15 pounds of pressure for about 12 minutes. Cool the cooker immediately.

Mash the cooked pumpkin with a fork before whisking it into the soup pot. When all the ingredients (onions, broth, water, milk, cream, and seasonings) are combined, puree the hot soup in a blender or food processor. Do so in batches, pouring each one into the same large pot.

Adjust the seasonings, heat the soup until steaming hot, and enjoy a taste of autumn.

Other winter squashes, such as butternut, hubbard, and acorn, all can be made into creamy soups in a similar way.

A Final Flourish
Consider serving hot pumpkin soup in scooped out pumpkin shells. Buy small pumpkins, scoop and clean them, and then ladle hot soup into them. Set the shells in shallow bowls in case they leak.

It's also fun to garnish pumpkin soup with freshly roasted and salted pumpkin seeds.