In this self-taught (always learning) kitchen, it’s not all chocolate chip cookies and roses. Techniques don’t work out, flavors fall flat, recipes are tried and retired, and mistakes happen. Some ideas are great in theory, but don’t work out in execution. Some just need some practice, patience, and re-working.
This past weekend, I tried out roasting a sugar/pie pumpkin. Mind you, this is not the typical jack o’lantern pumpkin you carve up on halloween. It does look like one, but it’s smaller. And it’s supposed to taste better than a jack o’lantern. Or so I’ve heard.
So when I saw a fresh batch at Trader Joe’s, all ready for next week’s Thanksgiving dinners, I scooped one up and brought it home with the intention of making pumpkin soup. It was relatively easy to cut up, de-seed, and roast. It took on a savory, golden-red hue as it roasted, which to me indicated a lovely roasted flavor, just as what I come to expect with all the other delicious squashes out there – butternut, acorn, and my new favorite: delicata.
But, despite the promising look, the flavor of the sugar/pie pumpkin fell flat in the soup I made. I was bummed. When I told my mom about my mis-adventures making pumpkin soup, she totally knew what I was talking about, and offered up that ‘real’ pumpkin really needs about 3 times the amount of flavor boosts from spices (if you go savory) or sugar (if you go sweet) versus the canned version. I missed that memo somehow. Doing research for this post, I found this great article about canned versus fresh pumpkin.
So, here is the recipe I followed for the soup, but with pumped up amounts of spices, so your end result turns out better than mine. In the end, it wasn’t so bad, and I even ate it for lunch the next 2 days at work, with toasted baguette slices and toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish. I am willing to give real pumpkin another try, but maybe I’ll wait ’til next year, so I can indulge in canned pumpkin treats (next up: pumpkin pie) and restore my love of pumpkin-everything.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Sugar pumpkins are relatively easy to cut up, de-seed, and roast. Pump up the spices for a flavor boost.
Prep Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
- 1-4 lb sugar pumpkin (or try butternut squash instead)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 shallots
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup pumpkin beer (Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat)
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste (in this case, that’s a lot!)
- Preheat oven to 400*F.
- Break or cut off pumpkin stem. Cut pumpkin in half vertically.
- Scoop out seeds (save for toasting) and stringy bits – discard.
- Drizzle halves with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
- Place cut side down on a large baking sheet or roasting pan and place in oven. Roast for 40 minutes, or until pumpkin flesh is tender, skin is softened and browned.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- Meanwhile, dice shallots and sauté over medium low heat in a large pot. Cook until translucent and softened, 10-15 minutes.
- Mince garlic and add to shallots. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add spices to pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add in chicken broth.
- Scoop the cooled pumpkin flesh from the skin and add to the pot. Bring soup to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add in the beer and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Add in more salt and pepper to taste.
- Using a hand immersion blender, or working in batches using a blender, puree the soup until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste, again, and add juice of 1 lemon. Stir to combine.
- Serve with crusty/toasted bagette slices, toasted/roasted pumpkin seeds, or a glug of cream.