This recipe was inspired by “Pumpkin Soup” by Helen Cooper. I discovered this book in the pre-school library, just before Halloween. Not only was the message about sharing and taking turns really important but the illustrations are beautiful and make you feel very cozy this time of year!
Items You Will Need and Why
- Sugar Pie pumpkins: Not carving pumpkins from the patch, those are not grown for eating. Baking pumpkins are usually labeled for you but if you can’t find any, feel free to use canned pumpkin puree but I doubt it will be as delicious. I found my pumpkins at Trader Joe’s but I am sure you can find them at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and other specialty grocers.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Trust me, it’s the best flavor for this recipe.
- Unsalted butter: Splurge for the unsalted, in fact, always have it on hand. It’s sweeter than regular butter and you can always add the salt, if you want to.
- Diced pancetta: It adds flavor on the front-end and back-end of the recipe. You could skip it but it’s really too delicious to pass up.
- Dry white wine or sherry: It doesn’t have to be an expensive bottle but you should not skip it, you’ll need the acid to balance out the soup.
- Low-sodium chicken broth: Beef would be too heavy but if you’re a vegetarian, you can do a veggie stock (and obviously, skip the pancetta).
- Fresh Thyme: A much better and different flavor than the dried thyme in a bottle.
- You will also need a big pot or Dutch oven, a blender and a cheap pumpkin carving kit (optional but will make your life easier).
- 4 lbs of Sugar Pie Pumpkins (makes about 3 cups of pumpkin for your recipe). (I bought two pumpkin, each were about 2 lbs)
- 2-3tbs of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup of diced pancetta. You can use bacon but I found at tub of already diced pancetta at Trader Joe’s and saved myself the work!
- 1/2 cup or two med-large shallots – shallots, diced. Shallots are milder than onions and can be found in any grocery store.
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine or sherry
- 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups of water
- About 1-2 tsp of fresh thyme (finely chopped). I just pull backward on the stems and the leaves fall right off, rather than chopping.
- Prepare your pumpkin.
- Slice the top offs of your pumpkins and then cut it in half (from top to bottom). It’s easier to clean your pumpkin, when it’s been cut open.
- Scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard of the stem, pulp and seeds. (you can keep the seeds to roast, if you like). I used my pumpkin carving utensils from those booklets you get at the grocery store or Halloween store; it makes it easier and safer to clean your pumpkin. * Make sure you scrape all of those strings out of your pumpkin.
- Brush the halves with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. I like using coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper. You may or may not use all of your olive oil or may need more – just enough to coat your halves.
- In a baking dish, place the halves face up and roast until golden brown and easily pierced with a fork (about 60 minutes)
- Let the pumpkin cool, peel off the skin and coarsely chop it up.
- In a Dutch oven, drop in the pad of butter and the pancetta. Sauté until the pancetta is totally brown and crispy. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and save for garnish.
- Toss in the shallots and sauté until soft, 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the 1/4-cup of wine and let them reduce for about two minutes.
- Add the broth, the water, pumpkin and the fresh thyme.
- Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer on low heat for about ten minutes.
- Blend the soup in a blender, in batches, and return to a pot or the Dutch oven. If you have trouble blending, add some of the soup you already blended to the blender to get more liquid in there.
- Once you have added the blended soup to a pot, add more salt and pepper to taste.
- I like a little extra kick so feel free to add a few flakes of red pepper
This recipe is really good, it’s savory and full of flavor. It’s not sweet, over-pumkiny and doesn’t have typical pumpkin dish spices.