February 1, 2011

Curried Pumpkin Soup

This is the second post in a series: "what to do with a ten-pound pumpkin."

I finally decided to cook the pumpkin that had been sitting on our countertop since the final U Street Farmers Market of 2010.  That is, since late November.  (Yes, winter squash really does keep that long.)

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It was my first experience with this variety of pumpkin.  I can’t remember what the producer said it was called.  I only remember that he said it was one of his favorites.  And since it was the end of the season, we got the whole thing – all ten pounds of it – for something like 2 or 3 dollars… I keep wanting to call it a Cinderella pumpkin because of it’s folklore-ish charm, but upon further research, I found that it’s definitely not a pumpkin of the Cinderella variety.   It might, however, be a “fairytale” pumpkin.  Maybe someone can correct my rudimentary pumpkin classification skills.

It was also my first experience cooking a pumpkin of this magnitude.  Starting with close to ten pounds, I ended up with about 6 pounds (10 cups) of roasted pumpkin puree.  It’s a lot, but certainly not more I know what to do with.  I have a laundry list of pumpkin dishes I’d like to try, hence this series.  First up: curried pumpkin soup.

Curried Pumpkin Soup (made with fresh pumpkin)

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Serves 4 to 6.

3 cups (24 oz) roasted pumpkin puree (see below)
vegetable oil for roasting and frying (I used grapeseed.)
4 cups pumpkin broth (see below)
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth  
              or 1 teaspoon broth concentrate (such as “Better than Bouillon”) + 1 ½ cups water
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Roasting Pumpkin
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut pumpkin into manageable sections (4 to 8 pieces, depending on pumpkin’s size).  Scoop out seeds and fibers and reserve for later use.

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Brush or rub pumpkin with oil and place flesh down in a large roasting pan or half sheet pan.

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Roast until pumpkin is fork-tender (30 to 45 minutes, depending on size of pieces).  Once pumpkin has finished roasting, set aside to cool.  

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When roasted pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh from skin using a spoon.  Use a knife to remove any remaining skin. 

Puree pumpkin in a food processor until smooth, in batches if necessary.  (Pumpkin will keep in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months.)

Pumpkin Broth
While the pumpkin is roasting, prepare the broth.  In a medium-size pot, combine pumpkin seed and fibers, about 1/4 of the onion, and 5 cups of water.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes, skimming any scum off the top, as necessary.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids.

Pumpkin Soup
In a medium size pot, heat about 2 teaspoons of oil over medium heat.  Add remaining onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add minced garlic and cook another minute.

Add pumpkin puree, pumpkin broth, and chicken broth (or concentrate+water).  Bring to boil. 

Reduce heat and allow to simmer for cook for 15-20 minutes.  If soup is too thick, thin with water as necessary.  Season with white pepper, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and curry powder.  Taste for seasoning (and add more if desired). 

Stir in cream just before serving.
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