I love perusing a good squash selection in produce during the fall. It probably has to do with the hibernation impulse—the need to cook heartier meals in line with the changing scent in the air. Some winter squashes are truly works of art. I usually put the ones I purchase on display for a few weeks, before actually attacking them with a chef’s knife. As an aside, I still enjoy a good pumpkin carving event, though my creations tend to fall sadly short of the company they share.
My squash soup, however, isn’t bad. It’s strange how most pumpkins disappear from the stores after Halloween. Pumpkin can be cooked and puréed into fabulous soups, completely proper for the months that follow October. I guess most folks find it too labor intensive to whip up pumpkin soup from scratch.
I can hardly talk. I tend to be an intermittent chef at best, often finding it difficult to sink into the joy of cooking when there are so many other things to do. During the workweek, I won’t cook anything that takes longer than half an hour to prepare. When I do have time to spare, a robust winter squash can lure me into the kitchen.
I tend to look for recipes that will render a thick, golden soup with an unusual kick of some kind—ginger, cheese, apples, beer, or sizzled sage. I hate the ones that call for peeling the chosen squash de l’hiver, before chopping it up and throwing it into a pot of water. Most average potato peelers just aren’t up to the job. Better to slice it in half (still a risky act), slather the flesh with oil, and bake the two halves in the oven.
Pumpkin doesn’t have to be puréed to make a special appearance in a delicious soup. Cubed, it can be a great addition to minestrones, not to mention your basic vegetable soups.
But there are even more creative ways to whip up a soup that includes pumpkin.
The bisque is set apart from other creamy concoctions in that it requires the puréed meat of crustaceans. If you Google “Pumpkin Bisque,” for example, you will find an assortment of soups showcasing unusual ingredients, such as smoked gouda, curry, sage pesto, maple syrup, or sweet potatoes. Chowder, the elegant bisque’s working class cousin, doesn’t have to be so smooth. Indeed, one expects a certain chunkiness, which cubed winter squash can provide (yes, Pumpkin Chowder recipes abound).
Bouillabaisse, a traditional Provencal soup, can certainly handle the weight of winter squash. Search hard enough, and you will encounter the Pumpkin Bouillabaisse. Or you can boil your pumpkin (along with a chicken) before straining it into a fine Pumpkin Bouillon. Another approach is to cook up your pumpkin, and then cool it down before serving it in a Chilled Pumpkin Soup.
For the Pumpkin Consommé, you will want to chop up some of the said squash, along with onions, garlic, and ginger. Consommé, by the way, is a refined broth that comes about through a fascinating process requiring the use of egg whites to round up unsightly pieces of meat and vegetables, all of which are removed in the end to produce a clear soup.
Pumpkin can anchor the dessert soup. Count on adding plenty of sugar and spice! And wouldn’t you know it? There are even some Pumpkin Gazpacho recipes out there. Then there’s the hearty goulash – coming out of Hungary – that generally consists of beef, pork, potatoes, and tomatoes, but CAN include winter squash (you’ll want to get the seasonings right on this one). Pumpkin is good in gumbos, too.
Moving on to the mulligatawny variety, it appears that some mulligatawnies are not complete without the added punch of pumpkin (of course this Indian style soup, based on a chicken stock, and seasoned with curry, can be perfectly fine without a hint of winter squash).
Tired of your average Chicken Noodle Soup? Why not try a Pumpkin Noodle Soup? Most of these recipes seem to come out of Asia. If you’d rather head South of the Border, there’s always Pumpkin Tortilla Soup.
I have never sampled the French velouté, but it appears this particular soup style meshes well with winter squash. I stumbled onto one Pumpkin Velouté that includes wild mushrooms and scallops with hazelnut oil. Vichyssoise, another French creation, is made of puréed leeks or onions and potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. It is usually served cold. Apparently, pumpkin can be added to the mix for the Pumpkin Vichyssoise.
Finally, I ran a search on Pumpkin Wonton Soup. Yep. It’s been done.
To write this piece, I drew heavily from the following website:
Soup Types – Become A Soup Connoisseur: Learn the Different Types of Soup. The Nibble, 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.