With all the fuss over pumpkin spice, it’s easy to forget orange squash is a nutritious vegetable that can also lean savory. Pumpkin can be used just like any other winter squash, cut into wedges or cubes and roasted, or simmered for side dishes, salads and soups. Just don’t bother cooking that big carving pumpkin. I learned the hard way when I was just out of college that the flesh of that variety is bland, watery and fibrous.
Instead, get the smaller kind labeled “sugar” or “pie” pumpkin, which cooks up creamy and dense with a delicate sweetness. Those qualities are brought into play in this velvety tomato soup, adding a dynamic layer of interest to a pot that’s brimming with warming flavors. While you can certainly use fresh-cooked, pureed pumpkin to make it, taking advantage of canned pumpkin works, too, and it makes the soup a completely pantry-friendly recipe.
First, a trio of aromatics – onion, garlic and ginger – are sauteed in a little oil. Then, broth (chicken or vegetable), canned diced tomatoes and pumpkin puree are added to the pot, along with ground cinnamon and allspice, and are simmered until their flavors join and the soup thickens a bit.
Finally, a touch of honey and a splash of coconut milk are added, and everything is pureed until luxuriously smooth. The cinnamon and allspice coax out the sweet undertones of the tomatoes and squash and add a warm coziness to the pot while the coconut milk brings a rich layer of creaminess.
Together with the ginger and garlic, the seasonings give the soup Caribbean flair, where, by the way, a variety of pumpkin (calabaza) is commonly used in savory dishes.
Creamy Tomato Pumpkin Soup
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola, grapeseed or safflower
1 small-to-medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with their juices
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons light coconut milk, divided
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
In a medium pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until aromatic, 30 seconds.
Add the broth, tomatoes, pumpkin, salt, cinnamon and allspice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 15 minutes.
Stir in ½ cup of the coconut milk and the honey, and remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. (Alternatively, let cool slightly and puree in batches in a regular blender.)
Divide among four bowls, garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk and pepper, if using. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 servings
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