Caribbean-style Pumpkin Soup

I was asked to develop a good pumpkin soup recipe for Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, while I was filming cooking demonstrations for them to promote their MasterChef Enthusiast Classes which are geared toward the home cook.  I wanted to develop something new that I had never heard of, and they wanted me to emphasize my travel background.

That’s not hard to do with pumpkin.  It is eaten in almost every culture around the world.  But as the weather starts to get cooler, I start thinking about heading to the sugar-white sand beaches of the Caribbean, so I decided to stick with a Caribbean-influence for this soup.  Caribbean cuisine is so fascinating.  They are influenced heavily by African and Indian cuisines and make use of all those wonderful tropical ingredients that grow so well there.  So, without further ado, my Caribbean Pumpkin Soup.

1 pie pumpkin (or 2 15-oz cans solid pack pumpkin) to render approximately 4 cups of pumpkin puree

To prepare the pumpkin, cut it in half from stem end to blossom end, scrape out the seeds and strings, place the halves cut-side down in a roasting pan, and roast at 350F for 1 hour or so, until the pumpkin flesh gives in and collapses when you press against it with a spoon.  Remove from oven, cool thoroughly, scrape flesh from skin, and set aside.  If you’re using canned pumpkin, disregard this step.

4 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced

In an enameled Dutch oven, saute onion in butter for 5 minutes until translucent.  Then add:

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2″ ginger root, peeled and grated

Saute an additional 5 minutes.  Add:

1 Tablespoon yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

(or for a Thai-style soup, eliminate these spices and add 1-2 Tablespoons red curry paste)

Stir constantly for 30 seconds.  Add:

1 quart chicken stock (or veggie stock)
previously prepared pumpkin, or canned pumpkin

Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Add:

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Puree with an immersion blender or in small batches in a blender until smooth.  (If using a blender, process only 1-2 cups at a time, place the blender lid only gently on top of the blender, not a full seal, and cover with a dish towel.  Pulse gently to begin, as steam will immediately be release and blow off the blender lid if you’re not careful, sending scalding soup all over your kitchen, and all over you!)  If desired, strain for superior texture.  Then add:

1 can coconut milk

Stir, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Finish with toasted pumpkin seeds, if desired.

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