Pumpkins are as much a part of fall as apples, cider, turning leaves, and chilly weather. The months of October and November call out for pumpkins—just think Jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie! Like their brethren squash, pumpkins work well in countless recipes—and not just sweet desserts but savory dishes too.
Soup is one of my favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin. I make it every October. When I cook pumpkin soup, it officially feels like fall. Flavored with a little nutmeg for warmth and then garnished with pumpkin seeds, it's perfectly comforting. (Don't throw away the pumpkin's seeds, use them in this soup.) A hot bowl of soup always warms me right up.
I start this recipe by roasting the pumpkin. But with the shortage in pumpkins, you could also substitute butternut squash or acorn squash. The base of the soup is a vegetable stock, making it vegetarian-friendly. I like to use my own homemade stock because I can flavor it the way I want. In this case I like a stock made predominantly with celery and fennel—the aroma of these vegetables adds a unique flavor to the pumpkin soup. Try it and you will surely get great reactions from whoever tastes the soup.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
for the roasted pumpkin:
1 sugar pumpkin (about 2-1/2 to 3 pounds)
for the bouquet garni:
1 bay leaf
1 sprig sage
3 sprigs thyme
for the soup:
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 cups vegetables stock
1/2 grated nutmeg
1/4 cup light cream
for the toasted pumpkin seeds:
1 cup pumpkin seeds, reserved from the pumpkin
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Using a heavy, sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise. You may need to core the stem to do so. Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh, reserving the seeds. Spread the seeds out on a tray to air dry. Rub the cut side of each pumpkin half with canola oil. Turn cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Mash the pumpkin.
Warm a little olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and apple. Sauté until soft, light brown, and almost mushy, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add bouquet garni and pour in stock. Bring soup to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Meanwhile, toss the pumpkin seeds with a drizzling of canola oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread out evenly. Dust with paprika and salt. Toast, tossing twice, until crisp and pale brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni from the soup. Stir in the mashed pumpkin. Off from heat, purée the soup using an immersion blender. Blend in the cream. Check seasoning. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.