The key to my favorite pumpkin soup? A real pumpkin.
Few cooking tasks bring out your inner child like carving open a pumpkin and scooping out the seeds and fiber. It’s interactive and entertaining — with just the right amount of danger.
I recently paired homemade pumpkin puree with our kitchen staples: garlic, spinach, black beans and tomatoes. Savory with an underlying sweetness, this soup has been the perfect lunch over these crisp, sunny October days.
And it keeps on giving: One pumpkin yielded cups and cups of puree, so my husband and I have been able to enjoy the warming dish every day for the past week. To keep the leftovers interesting, we have topped the soup with a fried egg, added it to quinoa and simply paired a bowl with a thick slice of toast drizzled in olive oil.
Yield: 8 servings
1 medium sugar pumpkin (also called “pie” or “baking” pumpkins, smaller than carving pumpkins)
2 15-ounce can of black beans
1 15-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
Spinach, 2-3 handfuls
3 cups vegetable broth OR salted water
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the puree:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Carefully cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and fiber.
(Bonus recipe: If desired, separate, rinse and dry the pumpkin seeds; toss with olive oil, salt and pepper; roast them separately at 325°F; and add as a garnish.)
Sprinkle the cut sides of the pumpkin with olive oil, salt and pepper, and lay face-down on a baking sheet.
Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. The pumpkin should be easily pierced with a paring knife. Check in multiple places for doneness.
Allow the pumpkin to cool. (If you’re in a hurry, pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes.)
Scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skin into a food processor, and blend until smooth.
For the soup:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, add a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). When hot, add garlic, and saute until fragrant but before the garlic has browned. Add the vegetable broth or salted water, the pumpkin puree and the black beans.
Stir, and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat, and let simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. When the soup has reduced and thickened, add a handful or two of spinach. Stir until wilted. Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve in a warmed bowl, and finish with an extra drizzle of your best olive oil.
Enjoy today, tomorrow and the next day.
Author’s note: For my next no-recipe pumpkin soup, I plan to pair pumpkin with sage, its match in herb heaven, along with garlic, caramelized onions and roasted pumpkin seeds.