Fall is here and so are pumpkins! I have really been enjoying this fall; the crisp, cool weather and, of course, all the beautiful gold, deep red, orange, and yellow hues to the leaves as they begin to fall to the ground. For me, this is a special treat because back in Phoenix we don’t really get much of a fall and we definitely don’t get all the pretty colors. So, on to the pumpkins…
Back in the States, I was used to seeing pumpkins pop up around Halloween time; carving funny faces and ghosts was always a great tradition in our household, and of course, baking the seeds! Although we don’t really celebrate Halloween here in Spain, I was still very excited to see pumpkins in many of the fruterías – fruit shops – here in Logroño too! And what better to use pumpkins for than a scrumptious, savory soup!
Now, I’ve had to do quite a bit of research on pumpkins vs. squash, winter vs. summer, etc., etc., but I think I’ve got it all figured out. It seems that pumpkins and squash come from the same family, cucurbitaceae, or the gourd family. (Keep that in mind for the next time you watch Jeopardy!) Actually, I found that pumpkin is just one of many varieties of squash. But, it seems that in Europe we just call everything with a fleshy, orange inside a pumpkin. So, today I’ll be making what we call here butternut pumpkin puré, and what you may call butternut squash soup. But as Shakespeare would say, “A pumpkin by any other name would…”, well, to me, it’s all just tasty!
Since we’re up to speed on pumpkins, let’s get to cooking! **Note: None of the pumpkins in the above picture were used for cooking. They’re just cute decorations.
2 1/2 lbs. pumpkin, peeled and cut into medium sized pieces (I used butternut pumpkin)
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into smaller pieces (so they can fully cook)
1 medium sized onion, cut into medium sized pieces
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
ground cayenne pepper or cinnamon (optional for seasoning the soup at the table – to each his own)
**Note: When cutting up veggies for this dish, don’t be too worried about the the size or shape. You’re going to pass the entire soup through the emulsifier before serving, so it will turn out perfectly thick and creamy no matter the size/shape of your veggies to start! :)
Start by cleaning and cutting up all vegetables. Be sure to cut all of the skin and any ‘tough’ part around the edges of the pumpkin. You only want to use the orange, fleshy part for the soup. I don’t have a full picture of what the pumpkin squash looked like before cutting because the pumpkins here are so large, you just go to the fruit market and tell them how big of a slice you want off of the giant pumpkin, they cut you off a piece and wrap it up to go.
On the stove:
In a large pot, add extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and chopped onions. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat. (Be sure not to burn the garlic. If you see it getting a little brown around the edges, reduce heat immediately.) After onions are golden in color, add carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, a dash or two of salt and a couple cranks of fresh ground pepper. Give the mixture a good stir and then add water, filling up the pot just until vegetables are covered. Bring water to a boil and then cover and lower to medium-high heat for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Note: While this is cooking, stir every 5 minutes and check to make sure the pot hasn’t lost too much water. If the vegetables begin to peak up above the water line, don’t be afraid to add a bit more water to the mix.
To finish up:
Once veggies are soft, turn heat off on stove, uncover the pot and let cool for about 5 min. In the same pot, use an emulsifier to blend everything up into a thick, creamy soup. Careful to get all the big chunks blended in, especially the onions, they can be rascals.
Serve up into bowls and top with ground cayenne pepper to add a deeper heat to your soup or a little cinnamon to get into the autumn spirit! Whichever you choose, it will be delicious! Enjoy!
If you’d like to add some variety or tasty toppings, take a look at how you can spice up your pumpkin soup.