We have a weekend soup habit. A late Saturday pick-me-up. A Sunday lunch. Leftovers stashed to cart to work during the week, or frozen for doling out to starving artists and graduate students. It’s a nice habit since it gives us the opportunity to improvise with whatever’s on hand and have something ready to eat when we are. During CSA season, we take the opportunity to cook down whatever doesn’t fit in our fussy fridge. Now in early winter we are working our way through the storage vegetables, the squashes and cabbages and sweet potatoes from the fall harvest.
Every growing season produces a surprise. You can’t be sure that the cabbages will keep, or the pumpkins and squash. There have been years when I am finally cooking up the last cheese pumpkin, a squat beige beauty that’s been adorning our counter all winter – in March! Not so this year. Some of our cooking pumpkins barely made it to Halloween, which was cancelled anyway because of the hurricane. Some limped along to Thanksgiving and others simply imploded. So I oven-roasted what was left and turned it into soup.
The pumpkin flesh was flaccid and mild, insipid even, not inspiring. Although it was a cooking pumpkin, its flesh resembled that of a jack-o-lantern. I therefore gave the soup some body and flavor by using equal parts of sweet potato and pumpkin. Since my liquid would be water instead of a flavorful broth or stock, I added plentiful spices: curry powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and salt, and smoothed it all out with a tablespoon or so of heavy cream. Topped with pumpkin seeds and sautéed apples, this produced a delicious repast for a busy weekend preparing for the holidays.
Spicy Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 c roasted pumpkin flesh
2 c peeled and chopped sweet potato
2 c or more vegetable broth or water
2 tbsp heavy cream (or more to taste)
Additional salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Garnish: roasted hulled pumpkin seeds, sautéed or raw apple cubes
Slowly cook the onion in butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, until well combined and aromatic.
Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cream and garnish, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium or medium low and simmer, partially covered for 30-40 minutes or until the sweet potato is thoroughly cooked.
Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor and adjust the seasonings.
Garnish with pumpkin seeds and apple, wither raw or sautéed in a little butter.