This year on Halloween, in my typical do-it-at-the-last-possible-moment approach, I set out to find a carving pumpkin in the afternoon only to find all of the local stores completely sold out. So, instead I bought some sort of heirloom fairy tale pumpkin from Whole Foods. It wasn’t even orange, but some terribly un-Halloween grey color. My attempts to carve it were laughable. The flesh was at least 3 inches thick. I did finally manage to carve something resembling a face, but it was so pathetic I ended up chucking the whole thing in the oven and baking it at 350 for a couple hours. (I think it’s almost impossible to overcook a pumpkin.) Obviously this pumpkin was meant for eating, not for entertaining trick-or-treaters.
What to do with 8 cups of cooked pumpkin? Make pumpkin soup, of course! While we already have several pumpkin soup recipes on the site, we were missing one with more of a Southwestern feel. I’m delighted with how this soup turned out. It’s smokey and spicy from the chipotle chiles, cumin and oregano. The soup is creamy enough just with the pumpkin purée and stock that it doesn’t needed added cream or milk, though some crema fresca or sour cream is a soothing addition as a garnish to balance the heat of the chipotles. The touch that will put a smile on your face as you eat the soup is the addition of toasted shelled pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas in Mexican cooking. Their crunchiness is a happy contrast to the smoothness of the soup.
If canned chipotle in adobo is not available, you can use chipotle powder, start with one teaspoon and increase to taste. If chipotle powder is not available, use 1/2 teaspoon of regular chili powder, increasing to taste, and a dash of liquid smoke. Note that fresh pumpkins vary in their moisture content, so you may need to add more liquid, either water or stock, to get to the consistency you want, depending on how thick or thin you would like your soup to be.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1-2 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo, 1 for mild, 2 for spicy), chopped
- 8 cups chopped, cooked pumpkin* (1 7-8 pound cooking pumpkin to yield 8 cups cooked pumpkin, or 3 15-ounce cans of canned pumpkin)
- 4 to 6 cups chicken stock, depending on desired thickness and how thick your pumpkin purée is (use vegetable stock for vegetarian option, can sub water for some of the stock)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Toasted, shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Creme fresca, creme fraiche or sour cream thinned with a little water so that it's runny
*To cook fresh pumpkin, use a good cooking pumpkin (i.e. sugar pumpkin, fairytale pumpkin, hubbard, or kabocha pumpkin), cut in half, scoop out the seeds, place the pumpkin cut side down on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for about an hour, or until soft. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh or cut away the skin. Let cool. Freeze for long term storage.
1 Heat oil in a large pot (8-quart) on medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, and chipotle, cook for 1 minute more.
2 Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.
3 If you are working with raw pumpkin seeds, now would be a good time to toast them. (If your pumpkin seeds are already toasted, skip this step.) Just spread them out in an even layer in a frying pan on medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon while toasting, until the pumpkin seeds are fragrant and are lightly browned. Remove to a bowl.
4 Remove the soup from heat. Working in batches of 2 cups each, purée the soup in batches, holding down the lid the your blender tightly while puréeing, and starting on a slow speed. Return the puréed soup to the pot.
5 Add lime juice. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt, cumin, oregano, or chipotle to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more stock or water to desired consistency.
Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), crema fresca drizzled over the top, and chopped cilantro.