When it comes to a hearty winter meal, there is little that comes to mind except a thick, creamy soup. Pumpkin soup is one such dish. It has a creamy, rich and silken texture that coupled with its sweet taste is a delight to savour.
Did you know that this rustic soup has a history that dates back to as far as 1804 and the Haitian independence?
Haiti became an independent country in the early 19th century and it was then that the people worked together to create a unique blend of soup that celebrated their independence from French colonization. They created the pumpkin soup which they called ‘Soup Joumou’. The soup was created as a symbol of unity in the face of adversity. Their version uses pumpkin, beef stock and other vegetables. However, I prefer to make it with just the star ingredient – ripe pumpkin. The soup has been widely adopted worldwide and now each country has added own distinct style of cooking to it. This is a traditional meal in the USA during thanksgiving.
To make the soup you can use canned pumpkin puree. But, I prefer to use fresh ingredients as they impart a more full bodied aroma to the dish. You can also add cream, Greek yoghurt (for the diet conscious) or even milk to the finished product to make it creamier.
My recipe is a quick fix and my secret is a spoon full of fresh (or dried but fresh is better) thyme.
- 750 grams of ripe pumpkin
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
- 8-10 almonds (whole)
- 750 ml or 1 litre of vegetable broth (you can use water also)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 7-8 peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme (or dried)
- 1 teaspoon parsley for garnish
- Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
- 1 table spoon salt free butter or olive oil
- Optional – cream, milk (1/2 cup or as per taste) or Greek Yoghurt (I prefer not to use anything)
- Peel the outer layer of the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into chunks (roughly 3-4 cm)
- Place a large pan on heat. Use a large sized, heavy bottomed pan with a lid. Add the butter/olive oil to the heated pan and toss in the peppercorns, onion and garlic. Sauté the onions till they turn pinkish (do not overcook). Add salt, thyme and almonds and add the water/vegetable broth. Cover with lid for five minutes and bring it to a boil. Once it comes to boil, reduce the heat and cook uncovered till the pumpkin softens. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
- After the pumpkin is cooked switch off the heat and allow the mixture to cool down before blending it with a hand blender. I prefer to use a hand blender for this but you can use a mixer. Just remember to cool the mixture before you use the mixer otherwise the stream build-up with blow the lid off.
- After blending, put the puree back on heat and cook for a further 10 minutes or till the puree thickens. Season with salt and pepper.
- If you wish to add cream or milk then make sure that the heat is off before you stir it in. The soup should not be put on heat after stirring in the dairy product else the diary products will split.
- Garnish with parsley and serve hot with toasted bread.
Note – You can also use other vegetables in the cooking process like carrots, beets etc.