Pumpkins are not just for pie! They’re also for cakes, breads, pancakes, and all sorts of savory things, including…SOUP, which isn’t just for winter lunches or quick weeknight meals like you might think. So often, we forget about soup when it comes to creating a large-scale menu—it’s overlooked in favor of side dishes or appetizers that can be piled on plates.
But November is a good time to start remembering just how satisfying and unexpected a cup or bowl of soup can be at a big meal. In fact, our Curried Pumpkin Soup is worthy of the ultimate autumnal center stage: the Thanksgiving table. Its flavor is warming, fragrant, and full of one of our favorite fall ingredients, and its color certainly suits a fall holiday table. Just as pumpkin shouldn’t be relegated to sweets, soup shouldn’t be shunted from festive meals.
This soup got its start in Lou’s shop, where gallons of it were made at Thanksgiving. We suggest serving it one of two ways for the holiday. You can greet guests as they arrive with the warmest welcome: a little cup of soup (and a cocktail) to start things off, or you can surprise guests by serving it as a first course during dinner. Either way, we love the idea of adding this to a Thanksgiving menu, especially since it won’t fill you up the way heavier dishes will, and when you’re dealing with a holiday feast, that’s a very good thing. The last thing you want is to be so full by the time dessert makes it to the table that you can’t even reach for a fork, much less think about putting something else in your belly.
By the way, if curry is not your thing, you can absolutely substitute other spices/herbs. Some nutmeg and sage or thyme would be great. As for the cream we add, there’s not much—only 8 tablespoons—but it does so much to round out the flavors that we ask that you please excuse this slight indulgence.
So now, we’ll leave you with some Thanksgiving guidelines that we’ve found helpful over the years:
*Keep at least some dishes light.
*Don’t fill up on too much bread—pace yourself. Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint.
*Avoid scenes like this with live turkeys
*And avoid scenes like this with the ones that are ready for the oven.
Stay tuned for our last Thanksgiving post of the year next week…
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Curry Pumpkin Soup
Most chefs will say you can substitute store bought purée for fresh but if you want to use fresh pumpkin, by all means do so. Use small pumpkins, cut them in half, remove the seeds and fibers, and roast until soft. Scoop out the inside and purée in a food processor until smooth. For this recipe we used store-bought organic pumpkin purée, mainly because it saves time, is really orange in color, and still maintains all the good nutrients of fresh pumpkin.
– A blender
– 1 large onion, thinly sliced
– 3 cups pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling!)
– 2 tbs unsalted butter
– 2 tsp curry powder
– 4 cups chicken stock (we like to use the low sodium kind so we can control the salt ourselves)
– 1/2 cup cream
– 1/2 cup milk
– Coarse salt to taste
* Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
* Add butter to the pan. When it melts, add the onion and about a teaspoon of salt.
* Stir occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent. You don’t want them to brown or crisp.
* Add the curry powder and mix. Let it cook for a minute or two so the flavors meld.
* Add the pumpkin and all of the stock. Stir and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes.
* You will probably need to purée the soup in two batches. Turn off the heat on the pan and carefully transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender. Purée. While the motor is going, add half of the milk and cream through the lid. Purée until silky smooth.
* Transfer the remaining pumpkin mixture to a bowl or large measuring cup. Wipe out the pot to remove any chunky bits left behind and pour the pureed soup back into the stock pot.
* Purée the remaining pumpkin mixture, milk, cream. Add to the pot and stir to combine batches.
* Taste for seasoning. Heat and serve piping hot.
©Lee and Lou Cook 2014. All rights reserved.