Some food, some drink.
An early-summer pumpkin soup: Impatience pays.
Abstract: By some stroke of luck, we've had a fair amount of rain this spring, and the cucurbits around the back of the fence are starting to come up. Not content to wait on this year's harvest, we're deferring to the deep-freeze for a pound of roasted pumpkin that I put up last fall. The end-product is a creamy, savory, ginger-spiked pumpkin soup. This soup is equally tasty served warm on a chilly evening, or served cool on a sunny afternoon.
Purpose: The last
time I made pumpkin soup, it was just around Thanksgiving. Pie
pumpkins were plentiful and half-price at the grocery store. So I
bought four-times what I needed, roasted and pureed them all, and
put up what I didn't use in the freezer.
Fast-forward to last week: the kids and I were out tending to the garden, and everything-gourd was finally starting to take off in the space formerly-reserved for weeds behind our fence. That, in turn got me hankering for pumpkin. It was about this time, I remembered that pumpkin I stowed in the freezer. When I went to go bring it out of cold-storage, there was a bag of shrimp setting next to it that also needed my attention. These are the eureka moments that are the harbinger to an ensuing pile of dishes. It's time to cook.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Add butter, onion, garlic, pepper and 1 tsp salt to a large saucepan and sweat on medium heat for 10 minutess, stirring every couple of minutes. The onion will be translucent. Add ginger, stock and pumpkin and continue to simmer on medium to medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Brandish the stick blender and buzz until smooth, then stir in Sriracha and heavy cream. Season with the rice wine vinegar and the additional 1/2 tsp of salt if needed. Serve with a big ol' scoop of barley and garnish with grilled shrimp.
- Let's get this out of the way: If you make this soup with canned pumpkin, you do so at your own peril. I roast mine at 450F before letting them cool to then puree and freeze. The subtle sweetness and complexity of flavor (like so many other things) comes out when high, dry heat is applied judiciously.
- I'm using turkey stock for this soup, but a good vegetable stock would still be great. You could also use chicken broth in a pinch, just mind the salt levels. Turkey stock is easily procured after holiday dinners, has ridiculous body, and is a culinary chameleon that works well with just about anything I care to pair it with.
- If you took the time to click that link to the last time I made this soup, you'd know that I put split peas in there. I like to know that I'm eating a soup and not drinking it, so I always add something to keep the chompers occupied. This time it was barley, as I was planning to prepare a mess of it anyway for summer salads. Barley is wonderful stuff; its nutty, hearty, and will provide a toothy chew to anything you toss it into.
- I also garnished with some grilled shrimp. If you wanna do the same, the seasoning I concocted can be found here. The sweetness of the shrimp plays nicely with the ginger, but this soup would still be swell sans-crustacean.
Results: The first day I had this soup, it was
served warm. The next day I ate it cold, and it was just as good.
There's an amazing amount of flavor in this soup considering it's only
seasoned with fresh ginger, Sriracha, salt and pepper. The sweetness
of the Vidalia onion is buoyed by the turkey stock, and there isn't
much that couldn't do with a finishing touch of cream.
If you serve food to folks that eat with their eyes first, eschewing canned pumpkin here is going to get you some points. The orange of a roasted pie pumpkin is bright and sunny, which perfectly foreshadows what's coming up to your mouth on that spoon. I have one more pound of pumpkin in the freezer to carry me thru the summer, and I doubt I'll be making a pie anytime soon.