Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Squash Soup

My lovely friend, Wendy, has the good fortune of living in the equally lovely town of Flagstaff, Arizona.  I love Flagstaff and have hoped many times to live there.  Among the many beautiful characteristics of the town are the distinct changes of season.  When autumn begins to turn to winter, you know that cold, crisp weather is about to set in.  

Still, autumn in Flagstaff is full of sunshine, blue skies, and celebrations like Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the day celebrating the time of year in which the boundaries that separate the living and the dead are at their weakest.  It's a tradition that's gaining a foothold in the American West and a perfect way to observe and commemorate a time of year when we're getting ready to turn inward and hunker down for the winter.  

This recipe was Wendy's contribution to a Dia de los Muertos celebration with friends, and as I look out my window at the 15 inches of snow that fell this weekend, it seems like just what I need!

Pumpkin Squash Soup
Photographs by Wendy

Pumpkin Squash Soup
(Gluten free, vegetarian)
Yield:  4 ½ qt of soup


1 3-4 pound pumpkin (yield about 8 cups of pulp)
1 medium butternut squash (yield 4 cups of pulp)
1 apple (tart variety like Granny Smith)
1 medium onion
1 3” piece fresh ginger root
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper
64 oz. vegetable broth, or more as necessary
1 fresh pomegranate

Scrub the pumpkin and squash thoroughly.  Cut in half, remove seeds and membranes.  Reserve the seeds for pepitos.

Coat the outside shells with extra virgin olive oil and place cavity-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast at 350 degrees for about an hour or until pulp is soft.  Skin will be golden. 

Use care when removing from oven as steam will be trapped in the cavity.  Carefully invert the pieces to allow steam to escape.  Allow to cool. 
Scrape out the pulp with a large spoon or remove skin and cut the pulp into large pieces.  Discard the skin.  This step may be done the day before and refrigerated until soup is prepared. 

Combine and set aside:
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp nutmeg

Medium chop:
1 onion
1 apple, peeled and cored

3” piece of fresh ginger (Soup4)

In large kettle or stock pot:
Heat about 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Sauté the onion, apple, and ginger until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg into the pot (will coat the onion, apple, and ginger).

Stir well.  Cook until lightly caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. 

Add the reserved pumpkin and squash pulp.   Mix well.  

Add 64 oz. vegetable broth.  Add more liquid as needed.

Add kosher salt (about 1 tsp) and fresh ground pepper (about 1/2 tsp).

Simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.  Everything should be soft and tender.  

Puree with immersion blender or in small batches in a standard blender or food processor.  Use care with hot liquids in free standing blender or food processor.  

Remove seeds from pomegranate, set aside for garnish.

Ladle into bowls for serving.  Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and pepitos over the top.  

pumpkins, butternut squash, pepitos, roasted pumpkin meat
photographs by
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds reserved from soup recipe
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
garlic powder

Separate pumpkin seeds from membrane under running water.  When all the membrane has been removed, lay seeds on paper towels and allow to dry overnight. 

When seeds are dry, pick out any remaining membrane fragments from seeds. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; pre heat oven to 275 degrees.

Gently coat seeds with extra virgin olive oil by turning with hands or spoon.
Spread in a single layer on baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic powder (if desired). 
Other spices to consider:  chili powder, red pepper, black pepper.

Place in preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Gently stir seeds after 15 minutes and repeat roasting and stirring for up to an hour til the seeds are lightly browned and crisp. 
Toss with more salt and garlic before last baking.

Carefully pick up parchment paper and move seeds to cool surface. 
Allow to cool.

Sprinkle on soup as it is served.  

Store leftovers in an air tight container.   

Now go make this (I am!) and share it with friends.  'Cause if you're about to get snowed in for a day or so (as we are) you'll want all the company you can get.  Besides, they'll love you for it, even if you aren't planning for a visit from the dead.


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