Fall is a great time for rekindling your passion for cooking. The harvest offers an abundance of varieties of Pumpkins and Squash, and although it's getting cold outside things start heating up in the kitchen. For those of us who dread the snow and the cold there is at least one trade off.... The food!
I decided to include this recipe to be interchangeable with Pumpkin and Squash, first because there is such an abundance of both during this season, but also due to the fact that Pumpkin is only available for a limited time. As most of us have observed, both of these gems end up making more of a porch and table decoration than an actual staple on our menu. There are dozens of different varieties, textures and flavors to experience yet only a few ever make it to our table.
I encourage you to try a new squash every month for this recipe such as Kuri, Kabocha, Gold Nugget, Delicata, Acorn as well as the good ole standby... Butternut. Each one has a unique flavor, some sweet, some starchy... Simply adjust seasoning according to your preference.
For this recipe I used Pumpkin when it was available, so all photos will reflect that. The same methods will apply to Squash, you will just need to adjust cooking time according to thickness and size. Cooking is done when a knife or fork is easily inserted into the pumpkin/squash. This recipe will make 1 large stock pot of soup, good enough for 12-15 people or for ample leftovers, so you can scale back the amounts for a smaller portion.
To get started, let's get a list of ingredients you will need:
- 1-2 Pie Pumpkins (ranging from 2-5 pounds), we are looking for 4-5 pounds of pumpkin. Or: Replace Pumpkin with your favorite Squash.
- Seeds reserved, instructions below.... (Garnish)
- 1 White Onion, diced (medium/large)
- 6 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin (about half a large bulb)
- 1-5 Tablespoons of Yellow Curry* (this is subjective to the amount of spice/heat desired) *Alternatively, you can do the following for the Curry:
Toast the following Whole spices in a pan on low heat: Coriander (1Tbsp), Cumin (2 Tbsp), Cardamom (black, green or white, 6 pods), White Peppercorn (1/2 tsp), Star Anise (1), Bay Leaf (1), Allspice (1 tsp), and Clove(3). Toast just a few minutes until the mix becomes aromatic. remove and let cool slightly. Using a spice/nut or coffee grinder, grind all spices to a fine powder. Add to small bowl and then add the following remaining powdered spices: Turmeric (3 Tbsp), Nutmeg (fresh grated if possible,1/2 tsp), Ginger (1tsp). Mix all ingredients and you have basically a Garam Masala/Curry mix. Start off by adding 1 Tablespoon of this mix to your soup, taste, then adjust to your liking.
- 2 quarts of Vegetable Stock or water, plus a little extra for thinning if needed. (Bonus points for taking all Pumpkin/Squash trim and fortifying your stock by adding it and simmering for 30 minutes to get that extra flavor. Just strain stock before use).
- 1 cup Apple Cider
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (to taste)
- 2-3 cups Milk or Cream depending on desired thickness/richness desired. Alternatively, 1 can of Coconut Milk may be substituted.
- 2-4 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Sugar, plus a little extra for baking. (use your judgement, it may take more depending on the sweetness of the Pumpkin/Squash used along with the other ingredients).
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- Salt to season
To get started, wash your Squash/Pumpkins, remove stems, then cut into quarters (cut into more sections if needed to keep manageable sizes.
Remove seed and inner pulp with a sturdy spoon. Add seeds into a large bowl, add cold water and remove pulp from seeds. Add into a colander/strainer and rinse to remove remaining pulp. Gently boil seeds in stock pot with salted water for 20 minutes. Strain, let dry a few minutes then spread seeds on sheet pans lined with parchment paper to allow to dry further. Once somewhat dry, add into a bowl and add a small amount of oil and a light sprinkle of the curry powder just to coat the seeds. Add salt and a little sugar for added sweetness.
Toast in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and crunchy. Remove and let cool. Turn oven up to 375 degrees for baking Pumpkin/Squash.
For each section of Pumpkin/Squash add one little cube of butter, salt, curry powder and a little drizzle of maple syrup. Place sections on parchment paper lined sheet pans and cover whole pan with foil. Bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour until fork tender. Remove, uncover and let cool slightly. Scrape all pulp into a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or forks to work out lumps.
In a large stock pot sweat the onions and garlic in the remaining butter on medium heat until tender avoiding browning, about 5 minutes. Add a tsp of the Curry powder and mix into onion mix and cook additional 2 minutes stirring and coating onion/garlic. Add a little stock and de-glaze the pan by stirring and removing anything stuck to bottom. Add all the Pumpkin/Squash mix and stir to mix. Add the Stock and Apple Juice, stir to incorporate. Allow this to come up to a gentle simmer. Warm the Milk/Cream or Coconut milk in a separate pot.
Using an Immersion Blender or a regular blender, blend the soup to a nice smooth consistency, or for a more rustic soup just blend well with a whisk. If using a regular blender, blend in small batches only filling blender half full. Make sure the cap on the lid is removed and place a towel over the hole to allow heat to escape while blending.. add stock to thin.
Bring soup back to a simmer and add the milk/cream or Coconut milk and the remaining Curry Powder. Taste the soup and season accordingly with Salt, Maple syrup/sugar and Apple Cider Vinegar.
Use Seeds as a garnish on top of the soup.
Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
Chef Mark Benson