15 November 2010

Double Take: Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Tabitha started getting excited about fall soups long before fall actually arrived in North Carolina. So I started looking at our “To Make” list that takes us into January and realized our mistake: we didn’t have a single soup on the list! I had already gone through the list, so I asked Tabitha to do the same. Would you believe that I had rated 28 recipes, but her two top choices I hadn’t rated at all? I didn’t rate them for a simple reason: there was no way Bender would even try them. She’d picked out two pumpkin recipes and Bender just doesn’t eat pumpkin. And I can’t buy canned pumpkin here. I couldn’t imagine that prepping the pumpkin for soup would be difficult, but it just wasn’t something I was terribly interested in trying if I were the only one eating it. So I picked one of Tabitha’s two recipes to make for our Double Take series and gave her my blessing to make the other one without me.

 I've been learning a lot about pumpkins since I moved to Germany. For instance, the rest of the world calls all winter squash “pumpkins.” I only thought something could be called a pumpkin if I could turn it into a jack-o-lantern. Boy was I wrong. And then I learned that Libby’s agrees with the rest of the world and that their canned pumpkin is generally butternut squash. Huh. I’ve never enjoyed pumpkin pie and my mom certainly did not cook with pumpkin, so it was never something I really thought about. So readers, what is your definition of a pumpkin?

Roasted pumpkin sure is pretty. 

Since pumpkin is not available in the can, I went shopping for a pumpkin. I ended up with a haipkido pumpkin (which almost could be turned into a jack-o-lantern) and then walked it all the way home (all 1.2 miles). Actually, my pumpkin was quite small, but my bag was also loaded down with dinner for the night (chicken tacos) and everything else I would need for the soup. Before I started with dinner, I went ahead and got the pumpkin in the oven to roast. I cut off the two ends, split it lengthwise, and place it flesh side down on a baking sheet. I turned on my oven and just let it go until the top skin was slightly blackened. Unfortunately, I cannot give you times and temps on the oven since I don’t know them… BUT I will soon! We had a new oven and stove installed the day after I made the soup! I’ve never had a new oven before!

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup
from the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, also available online here
Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 55 minutes  Cool: 10 minutes

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups chicken broth
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (I used 2 cups of roasted fresh pumpkin)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro*
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Garnishes: sour cream, fresh cilantro sprig

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño pepper, and garlic; sauté 15 minutes. Add chicken broth and next 4 ingredients; cook, stirring often, 30 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Process potato mixture, pumpkin, and cilantro, in batches, in a food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.

Return to Dutch oven; stir in milk, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lime juice; garnish, if desired.

Yield: Makes 10 cups

Compare this picture to Tabitha's. It looks like we made completely different soups!

I completely forgot to add the lime juice! And just noticed it! Yikes. Well, perhaps that is why it wasn’t as spectacular as I hoped it would be. This soup does have good, solid flavors and is easy to prepare. But it was also quite forgettable. Perhaps it was the lime juice that I left out? Perhaps it was too thin because I didn’t add enough potato (I was looking at the book, which just said add one potato (~ 1 cup) instead of the online recipe that suggested 2 cups)? Perhaps I shouldn’t have added all five cups of chicken broth? Perhaps it really is just a forgettable soup. Also, the sour cream as a garnish did not enhance the soup, which really surprised me. I like sour cream in soups, but in this soup it just sat there adding fat and calories for no reason.

I served this soup to several people (Bender was not one of them) and got good reviews, but no one asked me for the recipe. I do highly recommend serving it with a nice, crusty, French baguette.

It-could-use-some-serious-tweaking: 1 vote
It’s-good-but-I’d-like-it-a-little-thicker: 3 votes
It’s-good-and-I-like-that-you-left-it-slightly-chunky-to-combat-the-boring-that-is-pureed-soups: 1 vote

*One of my testers is in the I-don’t-like-cilantro camp, but she still liked the soup!

For Tabitha's take on Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup, head on over to Double the Garlic

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