Halloween is officially over. Somehow without noticing, the pumpkins my friends and I carved decided to be festive a little too late, if being a pumpkin isn’t festive enough, and leaked their fermented fall-colored juices (mostly a neon-ish yellow with a slight red tinge where it stained the table) all over our designated spots for them in the apartment.
I can only assume it was some form of revenge for our early enthusiasm at the beginning of the month. The premature butchery we took so much joy in has now effectively created a permanent reminder of the gourd’s sacrifice in the form of a hard, immovable spot on the carpet. I hope our land lady doesn’t notice. Ironically, the transparent, somewhat fragrant pumpkin innards reminded me that I hadn’t yet attempted a pumpkin soup. As Ina Garten says, “how bad can that be?”
Cutting the pumpkin in half that I had designated to turn into my dinner probably looked, appropriately, like a scene from some scary movie with a cleaver as the deadly weapon. Raised high above my head, my little paring knife did little damage as in collided with the orange flesh that seems more like rock. Apparently, pumpkins of smaller size have tougher exteriors. The thing had short man’s syndrome. I finally just got a pumpkin carving knife to cut out the stem, and then did my best to slice it into two separate halves. Once you get past that part, the rest is easy.
Roasting the Pumpkin
Before we continue… Pumpkins might be hard to find by now if you don’t frequent the farmer’s market. If you can’t find a little 2 1/2 pound pumpkin at the grocery, a butternut squash of equivalent size will work just fine. With either one, you’ll need to split it open vertically, and scoop out all of the seeds. Drizzle some olive oil on the inside, salt and pepper it, and put it flesh side down in the oven, covered with foil, at 400 degrees for around 45 minutes. Butternut squash won’t take that long. To check it for doneness, poke a fork in the flesh. When it’s tender, it’s ready. Scoop out the pumpkin with a spoon and set aside. If you have a food processor, put the pumpkin in and pulse a few times until blended.
Make a Spice Pouch
Put the following into a pouch made of cheesecloth (which you can find at hardware stores. I just used a longer strand of the cloth to use as a tie, but you can use string as well).
2 cinnamon sticks, 1 bay leaf, 6 allspice berries (whole, not ground), and three cloves. Set that aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a medium sized pot.
- Add one small to medium chopped yellow onion and two cloves of minced garlic in to the butter. Salt and pepper those and cook for two or three minutes, until transparent.
- Add one tablespoon grated ginger and one tablespoon fresh chopped mint. Cook for another minute or so.
- Add the cooked pumpkin, and immediately add two cups of chicken broth. You can add more if your soup is too thick. Mix it all together so that it has a relatively smooth consistency.
- Add the spice pack, and let is all simmer over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. If there’s foam on top, try to remove that as best you can.
- Remove the spice pack and transfer to a food processor if you have one. If not, use a hand held blender or a regular blender to create a smooth consistency.
- Finally, add 1/3 cup pineapple juice into the blender and blend one last time. Strain through a fine sieve for extra smooth soup.
- Cut a crusty baguette into slices for dipping. Just a recommendation.