From Too Many Chefs -

October 7, 2005
Spicy Squash Soup

pumpkin soup.jpgOn my recent trip to the organic market I went a little wild on the vegetables. Even when I take the time to go through the market once before going back and making my selection I still find myself with twice as many vegetables as I need, as I suddenly notice new and more interesting ones. You know how it is: you start out with the boring stuff like carrots and courgettes and then suddenly there is a pumpkin in front of you. Well, you have to have that. And sweet corn. And then your good friend Clotilde points out the enticing squash table, with...acorn squash. Ohmygosh. You know about that. And so as I pushed the overladen stroller back home it contained a couple of kilos of squash of one form or another. Oops.

And the Critic doesn't like squash. Double oops.

So this soup was my attempt to find a way to make squash the Critic would eat. That it failed, was not the fault of the recipe, I think. He's just pig-headed.

I'm not usually a fan of pumpkin soup. It can be awfully bland. Also, I really like the texture of squashes like acorn; there is something really satisfying about the way the tender blesh pulls away from the shell when it's roasted. But this is an interesting take on pumpkin soup. I guess I was inspired by the cloves in the tomato soup: I dug through my spice drawer looking for what I consider to be "medieval" spices: ginger and cloves and cinnamon and pepper. Both the nanny and the Critic turned up their noses at it, but I thought it was pretty tasty.

Spicy Squash Soup

600 grams squash/pumpkin (I had a quarter of a roasted acorn squash and about 500 grams of pumpkin)
5 cups vegetable broth (I used Better than Bouillion brand)
1 glass of dry white wine
1 large onion
2 Tbs fresh ginger, roughly chopped
6-8 cloves
1 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3-4 small dried bird's eye peppers
2 Tbs butter
salt, pepper, to taste
1 generous tablespoon of honey (for preference something nutty, such as sunflower)

I decided to roast the pumpkin for two reasons: firstly, I wanted to give some of the pumpkin to the boy, and secondly I thought it would increase the flavour. Also, the acorn squash I wanted to add was already roasted. You could just as easily peel the pumpkin and stew it in the vegetable broth instead. (I must point out, though, that peeling a raw pumpkin is annoyingly difficult.) So the choice is yours: roast your squash/pumpkin in a hot oven with a little butter and sugar until it's tender and slightly caramelized (yum!) or cut it in peeled chunks. Roughly chop the onion and sauté it in the butter in a large sauce pan. As it is softening, add the dried ginger. Keep cooking until they are soft and slightly caramalized on the edges.

Add the cinnamon and stir well. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat slightly. Deglaze with a wooden spoon, pulling up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Put the fresh ginger, cloves and dried peppers in a small muslin bag or tie them in a bit of cheesecloth and lower them into the broth. Add your pumpkin or squash. (If it's raw you'll simply have to alter the simmering time so that it's tender when you get to the next point.) Simmer for at least half an hour to let the spices permeate. When you feel the soup has absorbed enough spice and the squash/pumpkin are tender, turn off the heat. Fish out the ginger and cloves. Whizz the soup in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth. Add the honey. Taste for salt and pepper.

Garnish with sweetened, dried cranberries and roasted sunflower seeds.

It's a wonderful fall soup, earthy and filling. The spices compliment the sweet pumpkin flavor but are supported by the undertone of sweet honey. It's a great combination.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at October 7, 2005 1:20 PM | TrackBack

Throw some sagey sausage in it and tell him it's a "fall soup". That might work.

Looks good to me as is!

Posted by barrett on October 7, 2005 at 3:30 PM

Nope, if the ginger and peppers couldn't pull him in, nothing will. It was the word "pumpkin" that put him off and all the sausage in the world can't undo that...!

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 7, 2005 at 3:41 PM

P.S. Mr. Why-don't-you-add-meat: for once, it's a genuinely vegetarian dish. Aren't you impressed??

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 7, 2005 at 3:48 PM

Dang. Swap that butter out for olive oil and its even VEGAN!

Posted by barrett on October 7, 2005 at 4:28 PM

Yep, just checked the BTB label and unless vegans have something against eating yeast (it's alive!!) we are clear on that front too. Providing, as you say, you sub the butter...

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 8, 2005 at 2:53 AM

i too, have an anti-pumpkin partner and I am not crazy about it myself.
Last year we went to a friend's house who made one of the best home cooked dinners I have ever tasted.
He made a pumpkin or squash soup and Mr-No-Pumpkin lapped it up like a puppy dog. to say I was startled would be an understatement.
I think the CHef mailed me the recipe, so I'll have to see if I can find it in my mail box.

Posted by sam on October 8, 2005 at 12:28 PM

Sam, please do let me know if you find it! Pumpkin soup is one of those things I always think I should like because I love soups and I love pumpkin. This one was pretty good, but I'd be really interested in one that could convert a non-pumpkin lover!

That said, I don't know if Fred is like my dear partner, who will happily try foods he thinks he won't like for the sake of politeness outside our flat but will refuse completely when it's just me and him!

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 8, 2005 at 5:51 PM

Try this one, then. But with hard yellow squash, not pumpkin. My neighbor made it and it is superb.

Zuppa de Zucca

3 pounds squash, peeled and diced
2 leeks, chopped
1 onion chopped fine
3 ounces butter
1 Tablespoon of flour
Just shy of a pound of potatoes, peeled and diced
6 1/3 cups of broth
good olive oil

Sauté ˝ of the butter with the onion and leek until softened. Add the potato and leeks, sauté until it begins to become golden. Sprinkle the flour over, and stir in and let cook a minute or two. Add the broth and stir in. Let simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes and squash are done. Pass through a food mill or use a stick blender to puree. Add the rest of the butter and stir in.
Serve in soup plates. Drop a bit of oil on the surface, and use a skewer to draw it into a circle on the surface.

I prefer pumpkin, which is somewhat robust in flavor, roasted and served with ragu and yoghurt. Such memories.

Posted by Judith Umbria on October 9, 2005 at 3:35 AM

Add two small sweet potatoes to your spicey pumpkin soup and another Tbls of chopped ginger or 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes.

Posted by Brenda on October 9, 2005 at 10:49 AM

I'm not the biggest fan of pumpkin soup, (pumpkin pie is another story) but yours looks to be very very good. Great idea to add the chillies. I think I would make it with all acorn or hubbard squash though.


P.S. I make a stellar winter squash soup (excuse me for bragging) with lime and ginger:


Posted by ejm on October 10, 2005 at 5:59 AM