Most pumpkins in the store are meant for jack-o-lanterns, not eating. Use a sugar pumpkin, a Japanese Kabocha pumpkin, or Red Kuri squash if you are going to cook with it. Use 2 small (2 to 2 1/2 pound) pumpkins or one heftier one (4 to 5 pounds).
- 4-5 pounds of cooking pumpkins (see Recipe Note), or 3 (15-ounce) cans of pumpkin purée
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped, about 2 cups
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 to 3 teaspoons smoked paprika, more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 large tart green apple (Granny Smith) peeled, cored, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option, and gluten-free broth for gluten-free version)
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Handful of toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) for garnish
1 Roast the squash: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut your pumpkin(s) in half, and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff (an ice cream scoop works well for this purpose). Lay the halves face down on a foil or silicone lined baking sheet and bake until soft, about 45 min to an hour.
Cool, remove the peel, scoop out the flesh. You'll need 6 cups roasted pumpkin for this recipe; freeze whatever you don't use for future use.
Don't throw away the seeds! Toast them for a healthy snack.
2 Cook the onions with the seasonings: Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add smoked paprika, ground cumin, and cayenne and stir for a minute more.
3 Add the remaining ingredients and simmer: Add the chopped apple, pumpkin, broth, water, thyme, and ground sage. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through.
4 Purée the soup: Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender or a food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée.
If you want extra smooth soup, pass the purée through a food mill, after it's been through the blender.
5 Stir in the milk and cream: Return the soup to the saucepan over low heat. Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring to incorporate.
Taste and add additional salt or other seasonings if needed. (Since I use unsalted homemade stock, I add about 2 teaspoons of salt to this soup.)
6 Serve! Sprinkle with toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) and a little more smoked paprika to serve.
This soup can be made a day ahead. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for about a week, or frozen for up to three months.