I’ve made this soup several times over the last 10 years, and never had a bad batch. At a recent dinner party, it was so popular, someone told me today that I should give the recipe to the Embassy cafeteria chefs, in the hopes that they’d make something tasty in the soup department for once.
The original recipe came from Epicurious, but it’s evolved.
Southwestern Pumpkin Soup
(Bisque with options for a heartier version)
8 1-cup servings
Saute about 1 c diced onions and 3 cloves garlic, minced, in 1-2 tsp olive oil (as needed) in your soup pot. Cook on low heat until they’re caramelized while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Finish them with 1 tbsp butter and a dash of cayenne.
In a small bowl, measure 2 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp red chili/cayenne powder, 1/4 tsp nutmeg. (These proportions are to taste, some people really like cumin and double the amount, some people dislike heat, and halve the chili powder, this is my favorite blend).
Slowly add 6 cups of chicken stock (or the equivalent in reconstituted bouillon) to the soup pot, wilting any uncaramelized onions. I’ve also made this soup vegetarian with the excellent “Un-Chicken Broth” or veggie bouillon. Add spices from the small bowl.
Whisk in 1 large can of unseasoned pumpkin puree (30 oz). You’ll need to add it about 1 c at a time, depending on the size of your soup pot, because it plops and splashes.
Bring to a boil and cook until the flavors blend. Before serving, add 1 cup of whipping cream (or 1.5 cups of milk, but it won’t be as decadent). I’ve occasionally substituted soy milk for the cream, make sure you add it after everything else has cooked, or it will separate into teeny tiny white dots of soy, rather than blend in smoothly. It’s an aesthetic issue, not a taste one. Serve hot, but try not to boil the cream too much, or it gets clumpy.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and shredded cheddar.
If you want to chew on something in your soup, add a can of niblet corn and a can of black beans while boiling the soup, and garnish with some tortilla chip shreds in addition to the cheese and cilantro.