When my youngest son was in preschool, I made pumpkin soup for the first time. Inspired by a children’s book he had check out from the local library, called Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, I decided to try to make my own version of the soup. The story is about three animals (a duck, a cat, and a squirrel) who have a fight over making pumpkin soup. The story is about friendship and working out problems. What resonated with me most, were the beautiful illustrations of fall and cooking together. I loved the book and so did my son. We checked it out many times over the years and made lots of pumpkin soup.
Even though my son is now in high school, I still think about that book when fall rolls around. Fall is a big deal at our house. As a family, we carve pumpkins, make homemade things with fresh pumpkin in them, and we decorate our home for fall with pumpkins proudly sitting at the front door. So, when my son came home from school one afternoon and said that his teacher told him there is no such thing as pumpkin soup. Really? I was flabbergasted. The teacher told him, you don’t eat pumpkin other than in pumpkin pie. My son tried to convince him that we eat pumpkin soup, but the teacher thought he was mistaken.
My son was determined to prove his teacher wrong.
Since that day, I have been making other things with pumpkin. I have made pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin chili, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin candy. I even put pumpkin in other things like stew, with beef roasts, and I roast pumpkin along with other root vegetables like squash.
What I like the most about pumpkin is it’s not so sweet like sweet potatoes, and it adds silky texture in soup or chili.
Pumpkins are very versatile. I will be experimenting with them more over the next few weeks, now that they are easy to find this time of year. I usually purchase the sweeter “sugar” pumpkins. They are the cute littler baking pumpkins you see at farmer’s markets, the grocery store, and road side stands.
Roasting the pumpkin flesh before you use it is the best way to bring out the mild flavor. I basically cut it up into large chunks or if the pumpkins are small, I cut them in half and place them on a baking sheet, then I spray the pieces with cooking oil and bake them until they are soft. If I am using it for chili or soup, I cool it, scoop out the roasted flesh from the skin, and put it in the blender with some water or broth to thin it out. Then I blend it until it’s very smooth. I add my other ingredients to it, heat it back up and dinner is ready. Or you can eat it as you would winter squash. Top it with a little butter and brown sugar.
My son eventually proudly presented his teacher, with a cup of “real” pumpkin soup and the pumpkin soup book proving that not only is pumpkin soup real, its delicious too!
2 small sugar pumpkins, that weigh about 1 ½ lbs. each, roasted and puree or one can of pumpkin puree (2 ½ cups)
2 tablespoons of butter
¼ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
3 cups chicken stock, more if you like a thinner soup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
Garlic croutons, for topping
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.
Cut off the tops of two sugar pumpkins and cut them in half. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and strings, discard. Spray the flesh with cooking oil spray and place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes until soft. Cool for 15 minutes, then peel away skin and discard, set pumpkin aside.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add butter and onion, cooking until tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. Add remaining ingredients (except the croutons), including the pumpkin, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, reduce heat to low.
Cool soup slightly and transfer to a blender or use an emulsion blender to puree the soup. If using a blender, be careful, soup will be very hot! Pour mixture back into pot. Bring temperature back up and adjust thickness with more broth if necessary. Serve topped with croutons.