Sunday, November 10, 2013


Pumpkin soup with chopped apple.

A plethora of pumpkins! I’ve got some green pumpkins with orange flesh raised in the garden by son Ben and grandson Leo and some butternut squash brought to me by my gardener, Juan. So, I’m flipping through my files, searching for pumpkin recipes.

Leo with pumpkins.

Some I will steam until tender, then puree and freeze the flesh for making pumpkin pie and pudding for holiday meals. I’ll be making some more alboronía, a pumpkin and chickpea stew (that recipe I posted only a few weeks ago). And, calabaza frita, “fried pumpkin,” an old-fashioned Andalusian recipe.

But, here’s a great rendition of pumpkin soup. This recipe is adapted from one given to me by Carlos Falcó, Marqués de Griñón, who makes superlative vino de pago, single-estate wine, at Dominio de Valdepusa, in Toledo province.

The Marqués pours wine at lunch.
A few years ago when I was researching the foods and wines of La Mancha (central Spain), I had the good fortune to be invited by Don Carlos to a wine tasting and lunch at the estate on the first day of the vendimia, or grape harvest. (My interview with him about wine appears in COOKING FROM THE HEART OF SPAIN, FOOD OF LA MANCHA; William Morrow, 2006.)

This soup makes an elegant starter for a holiday dinner. You can change its basic personality by swapping the finishing garnishes. Add color with a swirl of red pepper puree. Add  texture with pomegranate seeds or toasted almonds. Make it richer with a dollop of Greek yogurt or cream. Turn it into a delightful vegetarian main-course meal by adding cooked brown rice and grated cheese.

Swirl cream into the pumpkin puree.

Red pepper puree and chopped chives to garnish the soup.

I used butternut squash for the soup. Squash, carrots, red bell pepper and leeks make a very sweet soup. A touch of Sherry vinegar balances the flavors. Homemade chicken stock is best, but canned broth can be substituted. My stock was made with the addition of a chile pepper, which, I must say, added a lot to the finished soup. How much salt you will need depends on how much salt in the stock.

Roasting the pumpkin and bell pepper before incorporating them in the soup adds an extra dimension of flavor and makes it easy to peel them. This step is optional.

I use an immersion blender to purée the soup. Passing the purée through a chinois sieve makes it especially smooth and creamy.

Pomegranate seeds add color and crunch to a smooth soup.

Cream of Pumpkin Soup
Crema de Calabaza

Serves 6.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, chopped
1 diced carrot
1 ½ cups chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 ¼ pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut in 1-inch cubes (2 ½ cups)
1 medium potato, diced
5 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
1 strip orange zest
Sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Dash of cloves
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 cup milk or light cream (optional)
Diced apple to garnish

Heat the oil in a soup pot and sauté the leek, carrot, and pepper on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and pumpkin and sauté 5 minutes more.

Add the potato, stock, vinegar, orange zest, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, cumin and salt. Bring the soup to a boil, cover, and simmer until pumpkin is very tender, 25 minutes.

Remove the orange zest, thyme and bay leaf. Purée the soup in a blender. Sieve it, discarding any solids. Taste for salt. If desired, thin the soup with milk or cream.

To serve, reheat the soup without allowing it to boil. Garnish with diced apple.

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