At Thanksgiving, cooks tend to fall into two camps: traditionalists and rogues. Not rogues as in “vagrants,” but as in mischievous types who break the rules. In my house, we’re mostly traditionalists, with a table anchored by a heritage, organic turkey; my dad’s mashed potatoes; my orange-cranberry sauce; and my great-grandmother’s baked apples. But every year I experiment with a few new recipes to prevent culinary boredom from setting in.
One new dish on my table this year will be spicy pumpkin soup. Actually, it’s a mix of pumpkin, acorn and delicata squash, but that’s way too long for a title. You can make it with just one of these, or with any combination of winter squash you might have on hand. I used these because they’re what I’ve received in the past few weeks from my farm share.
With a new recipe, it’s always best to take a trial run. That way if it’s horrible, it won’t ruin the Big Day. This is even more critical if you’re making up your own recipe. For tonight’s soup, I decided to combine a few different recipes. Part of the reason for this is that many soup recipes involving pumpkins or winter squash soup call for boiling stock, onions and flavorings with squash that’s been peeled, seeded and cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for cutting off a finger.
I opted to cook the pumpkin and squash like I always do, cut in half, scooped out, and placed upside down in an inch of water to roast at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes. When it was very tender, I added it to a stockpot of chicken broth flavored with onions, garlic, ginger and curry powder. Then I pureed it and smoothed it out with some low-fat coconut milk. The result is a sure cure to the foodie doldrums on Thanksgiving day.
Kids in the Kitchen: If you’re not sure how the soup will go over with the half-pints, why not involve them in the process? The more invested they are, the more likely they are to take a bite. I showed my kids the three varieties we were using, and we talked about their hard shells. When they came out of the oven and had cooled down, we talked about how soft they’d gotten. Then I scooped out each variety on its own plate — pumpkin, acorn squash, delicata squash — and we did a taste test. One child preferred the acorn squash, another jumped up and down saying the delicata was better. My son deemed it so delicious, he kept scraping his spoon against the skin to glean more of the bright orange squash.
A study in orange: Our taste test of pumpkin, acorn squash and delicata
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
4 cups cooked pumpkin and/or winter squash
2-3 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 T finely chopped ginger
1/2 T curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup low-fat coconut milk
As the pumpkin/squash is cooking (see above for roasting instructions), heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute onion about 7 minutes. Add in garlic, ginger and curry powder and stir well for 30 seconds. Pour in stock and let simmer for as long as you have, preferably 30 minutes or more to bring out the flavors. Stir in the cooked pumpkin and/or squash. Puree in a food processor, then add coconut milk and salt to taste.