Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pumpkin Soup

Two weeks ago while staying in Big Sur with my friend, and BSKBG, Nadine, she made delicious pumpkin soup!  It was so delicious that I knew I was going to have to make some.  I make and eat more soup in a year than than most people (in the US!), I know how to make soup!  But I did ask Nadine how she made hers.  She told me it was pretty basic, pumpkin, lite coconut milk, etc...  Hmnn...lite coconut milk, huh.  And of course I knew she used a "real" pumpkin, I wouldn't expect anything else!

Previous few weeks I had been making my own Delicata squash soup, and a winter squash is a winter squash, is a winter squash!  The only thing that is different in handling any winter squash is the peel.  Pumpkins have a much thicker peel than Delicata, but the easy solution is to roast it in the oven cut in half, as you would a Butternut, or any other hard shelled winter squash....which was my plan until....

Enter the pressure cooker!  I've been steaming many things in my pressure cooker this year, including eggs!  The nice thing about steaming dense vegetables in a PC is that it takes only a few minutes of actual cooking time, and then once I turn off the heat I let the veggies sit inside, with the lid still locked in place, to completely soften for about another 10-15 minutes, or all day if I want to.

Pumpkin is not very tasty.  Yes, I bought the "sugar pie" pumpkin, but it must have been mislabeled because there was nothing sugary or even pumpkiny about its flavor.  I steamed the pumpkin in four or five wedges (although I could have steamed it whole I wanted to use my steamer basket), scooped the flesh out but never tasted it on it's own.

I went ahead and started a regular soup in my 6 qt PC.  Onion, celery, sauteed in some olive oil.  I added two carrots, some fresh ginger, the flesh of one small pumkin, turkey stock and oh yes...a can of lite coconut milk!  Since the pumpkin was already cooked it didn't need long, maybe 10 minutes at high pressure and then I turned it off and let the pressure come down naturally, about 10-15 min more.

I took my immersion blender to it (after I fished out the chunks of ginger), and a beautiful orange creamy soup appeared.  Now, the taste test! this what "real" pumpkin tastes like?  Um...not so nice.  It barely resembled any pumpkin flavor, what to do?  What can I add to make it taste like pumpkin?  It seemed sooooo far away from any pumpkin I've ever been used to tasting.  Salt?  Well, it did need a bit more salt, but that wasn't all.  Sugar?  Acid?  Fat?  The only thing that made sense was sugar. Even tomato soup sometimes needs sugar, so sugar it was, brown sugar.

I started out cautiously because I did not want pumpkin pie soup!  1 tbl, taste, another tbl, I dare?  Okay one more.  Viola!  Yep, that was it.  3 tbl of brown sugar isn't all that bad! Especially because there's a ton of other really nutritious goodness.  I think I'll go ahead and make some more turkey stock from the last carcass but add some meat to the next batch!

Stolen from Nadine, Pumpkin Soup

one small pumpkin (3-4 lb)
olive oil
1 med onion, large dice
2 stalks celery, large dice
2 med carrots, large dice
2 c. stock
1 can lite coconut milk
salt to taste
sugar to taste
(ginger is optional)

You don't need a pressure cooker at all to make this soup.  You don't even need to pre roast or pre steam your pumpkin squash, but you will have to peel it, seed it and cut it into a large dice, which might be difficult to handle such a large and dense vegetable.  So, throwing it in the oven, cut in two, cut side down on a roasting pan for 30-45 min until soft enough to be pierced with a fork will do it.  Let cool enough to handle and scoop flesh out of the hard skin.  It should be about 4 c. of pumpkin.  (you can scoop the seeds out after it's roasted or steamed)

Heat olive oil in pot, add onion and celery.  Cook for 5-8 min until translucent.  Add carrots, pumpkin flesh, stock, coconut milk and about 2 tsp salt.  If pressure cooking, lock the lid in place, let pressure come to high and turn heat down to maintain pressure.  Cook for about 10 minutes, turn off burner, let the pressure come down naturally.

If cooking in a soup pot, follow all previous instructions except after the addition of the liquids simply bring all ingredients to a boil, turn heat down, cook slightly covered for probably 25-30 minutes until veggies are soft.

Mix with an immersion blender, OR wait until soup cools down enough to put in a tradition blender or food processor.  Blend or process until smooth.  Taste for seasoning....sugar and salt.  Maybe you'll get a better tasting pumpkin than I did!

I'll post a picture of the finished soup when I serve myself a beautiful dish of it and I can snap one to share!  In the mean time I only have photos of my steamed, pressure cooked pumpkin and what it looked like when I was scooping it out!

Have you ever made pumpkin soup, or a pumpkin pie from a "real" pumpkin?  How did it turn out?

(ps "BSKBG" stands for Big Sur KettleBell Gal!)


Tracy Mangold said...

I mentioned this on FB about cooking with "real" pumpkins from the garden. I roast them and then scrape out the meat. I've made pumpkin scones, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin pie with it. Love it. I even tried Pumpkin Saag which - was not the greatest but I think it had more to do with the actual pumpkin not being very sweet. Will have to try that again sometime. I haven't done much with pumpkins the last few years as my uncles' garden was inundated with Squash beetles which killed the entire squash and pumpkin patch. :( I'm a huge pumpkin lover so this made me quite sad. Will have to try this recipe though. It sounds divine!

Laura Pazzaglia said...

Ciao Tracy!

I can see from your post that you didn't really WANT to add sugar. This looks like a fantastic recipe!

I would recommend to get natural pumpkin-y sweetness to do two things. First, plop a few spoons of pulp in the cooker when you are sauteeing the aromatics. Just let it sit there and brown on one side without stirring. Then, toss in a couple of carrots in the soup to make it naturally sweet.



P.S. Don't forget to use the steaming liquid from the pumpkin in the soup, too!