First of all, I do not understand why it's "unacceptable" to soup in the Spring and the Summer. Ridiculous. To make matters worse, people go pumpkin crazy in the Fall, and yet, barring a pumpkin shortage, one can buy canned pumpkin in the store, during all seasons. So what's this pumpkinsanity, during the month of October? I mean, how many people actually cook with fresh pumpkin? Seriously. If you cook with fresh pumpkin, leave me a comment, because I am dying to know if this is really a trend.
Okay. Rant over.
Now, onto the cooking. For the first time ever, I cooked with fresh pumpkin. My close friend, former roomie, and now neighbor to my parents, sent me a Harvest Pumpkin Soup recipe, which looked delicious, though I was quite intimidated by the use of fresh pumpkin and fresh butternut squash in the dish. In the past, I've tried cutting a butternut squash, and it was both messy, and extremely difficult. My knives are okay, but truth be told, I need a new set pretty badly, because cutting the pumpkin was a beast. Maya helped me by doing the "mixing," and we roasted some delicious pumpkin seeds after our project. Anyway, Liz's gave me some roasting tips, which really helped, and I ended up modifying her recipe, because Kevin is very skeptical about recipes with dairy in them. I found an alternate recipe, from Cooking Light (of course), and I married the two together, in the hopes of creating a masterpiece. Basically, I took Liz's recipe, and cut down on the butter, subbed skim milk for the cream, and did a little finagling of the spice combination.
Okay, so the end result was a deliciously thick, yet smooth soup, that had a perfect blend of sweet cinnamon subtlety, and roasted cumin saltiness. We aren't usually fans of smooth soups, because we adore chunky soups that border on stews (Rachael Ray would call us a "Stoup Family"). This soup is an excellent companion to a grilled cheese (and tomato, of course) sandwich, or a grilled chicken salad. It's very light, and, in my opinion, it wasn't a meal by itself , but that may be because I didn't make it quite as rich as the recipe suggested. If you are in the mood for some tasty, Fall inspired, fresh pumpkin/squash yumminess, you should make this. It's worth the effort, even if you have old, dull knives!
Here is Liz's recipe, including my modifications, from the Roasted Pumpkin and Winter Squash Soup recipe I nabbed from Cooking Light.
Harvest Pumpkin Soup
~2-lb Sugar Pumpkin
~2-lb Kabocha Squash, or Buttercup Squash (I used a butternut squash)
Salt & Pepper
4 Tbsp Butter (salted) (I cut this way down, but I'm not even sure how much I used)
1 cup Sweet Onion, diced (I used 2.5 cups of onion)
1/2 cup Carrots, diced
1/3 cup Celery, diced (My celery was looking sad, so I didn't use it)
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp Tomato Paste (concentrated)
1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed (I cut this way down, too, but again, not too sure how much)
4 cups Vegetable Broth (I use the little squares that you mix with boiling water)
1 cup Half & Half (I used skim milk, because that's what I had)
I added a 1/4 tsp of pepper, and a 1/4 tsp of cumin
dash of clove at the end (I used allspice instead)
Preheat your oven to 400. Slice the pumpkin and squash from stem to bottom and remove seeds and pulp. Season with S&P and roast on a cookie sheet for 45 – 60 minutes, or until tender. (As Liz suggested, I put the halves face down in casserole dishes, with a dash of water, while they roasted. Yum.)
Ten minutes before the pumpkin and squash are done roasting, in a large stock pot, melt the butter. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute until the onions are soft and translucent. Then add the ginger, cinnamon, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Stir to combine heat over medium until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vegetable stock and bring the pot to a boil. When the pumpkin and squash are tender (pumpkin may be more so than the squash), scoop out all of the flesh and add it to the pot, along with the Hald & Half. Return everything to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out as much as you can of the vegetables and pumpkin and squash, and liquify it using a blender (or if you have an immersion blender, that would be perfect for this). Return the liquefied veggies to the pot. You don’t have to blend the entire pot – just however much you want to that you’re comfortable with the consistency of the soup. When everything is smooth and heated through, taste and add salt or cinnamon as needed.