With autumn in full swing and Halloween only a day away, many of us will soon find ourselves with a surplus of pumpkins. The pumpkins of my past were usually good for only two things: carving and pumpkin pie. Now I’m sure my mom used them for decoration too, but pumpkin pie filling always came out of a can and Halloween pumpkins soon decayed into gumless faces until they collapsed in on themselves.
Fortunately heirloom pumpkins have made a comeback and today’s pumpkin selections are incredibly more versatile than the pumpkins of my past, giving us culinary options for many of these beauties once they’ve outlived their purpose as decor.
For the past five years or so, I’ve experimented with cooking with pumpkins from the different assortment I’ve come across, and I’ve found that the tastiest and meatiest ones have been the red-orange cinderella and cheese pumpkins with the blue/green varieties coming in close behind. If I have multiple pumpkins, I’ll prepare them for cooking, freezing the surplus for use throughout the winter.
As I mentioned before, while growing up pumpkin pie was the only winter squash we ate, and it came out of a can! I might have tried a winter squash dish at a restaurant – I seem to recall pumpkin ravioli – it wasn’t until I started traveling abroad and experiencing the food of other cultures that pumpkin became a regular part of my seasonal diet.
Twenty years ago, I lived in South Africa where pumpkin is a staple in the diet of most South Africans; it was readily available sold in quarter, half and whole sizes at the grocery store. So today, I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for pumpkin soup that I found in Food and Home magazine while living in Johannesburg. I still have my copy today, saved just because of this soup!
There is no accreditation given for the recipe, however the original article, Fireside Feasting, was written by Justine Drake. If you can’t find any cooking pumpkins, you can easily use butternut squash, which is usually readily available. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Roasted Pumpkin Chilli and Coriander Soup
1.5 kg/3.3 lbs pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
salt and milled pepper
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 ml/1 tps freshly minced ginger
2-3 chilies, seeded and chopped
250 ml/1 cup coconut milk
1 litre/4.2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
45 ml/3 Tbs fish sauce
5 ml/1 tsp brown sugar
thinly sliced lemon peel
fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
- Place pumpkin and onion into a roasting pan, drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven at 180 C/350 F for 35-40 minutes until cooked through, browned but not burned.
- Meanwhile heat a little olive oil in a large pot. Add garlic, ginger and chilli; sauté for 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and stock. Cover with lid removing from heat. This will allow the flavors to infuse.
- Blend or mash onion followed by the pumpkin and any pan juices to create a chunky “mush”. Mix into soup base and heat through. Add fish sauce, sugar and season to taset.
- Simmer for about 20 minutes. Spoon into bowls, top with lemon peel, thinly sliced chilli and coriander/cilantro.