by Jane Rodmell for All The Best Fine Foods, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter’

Curried Pumpkin Soup

There’s more to pumpkin than pie. Sculpted into giant Jack o‘ Lanterns on a front stoop and soon demolished  by wayward tricksters, most  of our local pumpkins come to a sadly undistinguished end. They deserve better! 
The pumpkin belongs to one of the major hard-skinned, winter squash species, Cucurbita pepo, which includes acorn and spaghetti squash. Some varieties of small pumpkin have light cream or orange skin and a sweet, firm, flavourful flesh. They are much too good to be considered only as decoration.

In Tudor times, the English, included pumpkin in savoury pie fillings combined with meats and raisins and spiced with nutmeg and allspice.  French cooks particularly value the pumpkin for its thickening properties for soups. In South America the pumpkin is a major ingredient in many traditional soups and stews. Use the small, sweet pumpkin varieties as you would other winter squash, in soups, stews, risottos, gratins …you will be delighted.
In All The Best Kitchen we add a traditional garam masala spice blend (usually including green cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and peppercorns) to complement the sweet flavour of pumpkin in this comforting soup. If you like things a little spicier, add a touch of cayenne.

Curried Roast Pumpkin Soup
1 small ‘pie’ pumpkin, seeds removed, peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks, approx 1 1/4 lbs (625 g) or 4 cups (1 L)
1 tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 ml) garam masala
½ tsp (2 ml) allspice
Kosher or sea salt
2 tbsp (30 ml) butter
½ medium onion, chopped
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp (15 ml) finely grated fresh gingerroot
Pinch cayenne pepper (opt, to taste)
¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
4 cups (1 L) vegetable or chicken stock
Freshly ground pepper
6 tbsp (90 ml) sour cream
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped chives

In a large bowl, toss pumpkin chunks with oil, garam masala, allspice and ½ tsp (2 ml) salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and set in a preheated 375° F (190° C) oven. Roast until pumpkin is almost tender and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat butter over medium heat.  Add onion and leek and sauté until softened but not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and cayenne, if using, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add wine and cook for a minute or two to reduce liquid to a glaze. Add roasted pumpkin and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until all vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. Using a blender, purée soup, in batches, until smooth. Force purée through a fine mesh sieve for a smoother texture if desired. Return to saucepan and heat through until steaming. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with sour cream and chopped chives. Serves 6.

Enjoy and all the best!