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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Definitely treat

Just finished making the Pumpkin-Tomato Soup I started the other day (see below). Delicious, if I do say so myself.

For Halloween, I'm giving you the recipe:

For a speedier, pantry-based version, you can make this with canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling tho), but come on, bake a pumpkin!

4 cups fresh (see below) or canned pumpkin, or substitute/combine winter squashes like butternut, kabocha, etc.
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 15oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbsp maple syrup, or subsitute honey or molasses [This post has been modified because I have since gone vegan.]
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, canned (optional, but really recommened; they don't make the soup too spicy, just provide a nice slight heat and smoky background for the sweet pumpkin)

See notes below for more options/subsitutions.

To Bake the Pumpkin:

Split a medium to small cooking pumpkin (not the big carving ones, which aren't all that flavorful) and scoop out the seeds. (Save those to roast.) No need to peel it, just cut it into 3x3 chunks and spread in a single layer in 1-2 lightly oiled baking dishes. Optional: add a couple of cloves of peeled garlic. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika and toss to distribute. Cover with foil, then bake for 30-45 minutes at 400 (until the flesh is soft and easily pierced with a fork). Uncover and bake 10 more minutes, until pieces brown a bit. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. You'll want to peel the pieces (really easy now, just scrape with a spoon) before you proceed.

Depending on the size of your pumpkin, you will have 4-8 cups of cooked chunks. If your pumpkin is huge, the recipe below is easily doubled and freezes well. Or, you can just mash and enjoy the leftovers as a side dish.

You can also substitue hard winter squashes like kabocha or butternut, or use a combination. (I used a pumpkin and a hard green squash with orange flesh, whose name I didn't catch!)

To Make the Soup:

For every 4 cups of pumpkin, you'll need 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock and 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes (15 oz).

Put peeled chunks into a large bowl if you have an immersion/stick blender. (I recommend this way, easiest and less cleanup.) Or into the food processor. Add tomatoes and their juice. Add stock. Puree.

Check for seasoning. Then add 1 tbsp of maple syrup (for every 4 cups of pumpkin) and salt and pepper if needed. Optional but highly recommended: add 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. (I am a Texan, so I added four plus all the sauce in the can to my 8-cups-pumpkin batch.) Puree and check for seasonings again.

Mixture should be smooth and thinner than mashed potatoes, but not runny. It can be thinned further with stock if necessary, but will also be more fluid when it's reheated. (It's meant to be a substantial texture.)

Other options: if you don't have chipotles on hand (um, why not? food of the gods!) but would still like some spiciness in your soup, try a couple of tsps of chile powder (which vary wildly, taste yours first and add to taste) plus a dash of cayenne and 1-3 tbsp of a good smoky barbecue sauce. You may even want to skip the maple syrup if your bbq sauce is a sweeter one.

That's it, OK? You can garnish this with a dollop of [insert]Better Than Sour Cream[/insert] or even some crumbled goat cheese if you wanna get fancy, but it doesn't really need anything. Julienned spinach or chopped parsley would be good on top if you want some green.

Reheat gently, adding more stock to thin if necessary.

*This is my own adaptation of a recipe called "Pumpkin-Tomato Bisque" (despite it containing no cream or milk) from Crescent Dragonwagon's (yes, that's her real name) Passionate Vegetarian, which is a excellent book and is widely available. You should get it, whether or not you are a vegetarian.

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