It’s really a very simple soup, but it looks elegant if served in pumpkin halves instead of soup bowls. And here, of course, lies a problem: how many halves do you get when all you have is one fairly large acorn squash? Right, you know your fractions – two. Those two are fairly large, too, quite a bit bigger than an average portion. So I was very happy when I saw little pumpkins that looked just like acorn squash in the Patel Brothers store. I asked my husband to get me a couple of those. Well, wouldn’t you know, he brought me two different ones, albeit the same size. One did look like a small acorn squash, which is what I had asked for to begin with. The other one was sort of elongated, with smooth lemon-yellow skin. My husband said they were mixed together in the same bin.
Maybe so, maybe not, but when life hands me pumpkins, I make pumpkin soup out of them! The size was perfect, making four “soup bowls” of just the volume I usually serve.
To make this soup, I needed spinach, which was the reason for it to begin with, as I had some baby spinach leaves left that desperately wanted to be cooked, otherwise they would go bad. Carrots, diced tomatoes, garlic, and turmeric are always hanging around in my refrigerator, conspiring – cooking up ideas. I just had to pick up some frozen black eye peas and defrost them.
First things first: pumpkins have to be baked, or rather, half-baked. Meaning, not all the way to be edible, but soft enough to scoop out the edible part without damaging the shell. I bake them in the microwave, but it could be done in an oven as well. Pierce your pumpkins with a sharp knife around the waistline. This will help you to cut them into halves easily and cleanly. Then just put them into a microwaveable dish or on top of a paper towel, as some juice will be coming out, pop them in and cook on high setting for 10 minutes. Take them out and let them cool off just enough to be worked with.
You can use this time to grate your carrot, dice tomato, squeeze garlic, add some peeled and grated turmeric, and saute all this together until carrots soften.
Now we have to finish baking pumpkins. Cut them in half following the line where they had been pierced. Clean the halves of seeds and membranes. Place them on the same dish cut side down and put them in the microwave for five more minutes. When they beep at you, take them out and let seriously cool off. You can use this time to chop spinach and place it in a two-quart pot together with the rest of ingredients, including carrots with tomatoes, garlic and turmeric that you had sauteing.
Carefully scoop out the inside of the pumpkins and pulverize it in a food processor. You should get about one and a half to two cups of pumpkin puree. Surprise! It wasn’t bright orange, as I had expected, but pale lemony yellow. It also had a slight and very pleasant lemony flavor. I poured it into the pot, added water to the full two quarts, and brought it to boil. This is also a good time to cut the little “tails” off and gently slice a piece of skin from the bottom in order for your “soup bowl” to be more stable.
Once it starts boiling, all that’s left to do is to add some fresh cilantro, pareve soup powder, and a pinch of cinnamon, and season with salt and pepper. Bring it to boil again, stir well, and it’s done.
Served in a pumpkin shell, this delightful soup will definitely grace your table. I still use a real bowl to support the shell, just in case, but I think it only adds to the beauty of it. Oh, and that pale lemony Indian pumpkin flesh turned out to be so much tastier than our customary bright orange stuff!
- 1 large or 2 small pumpkins / squash
- 1 1/2 cup black eye peas or pinto beans, cooked or frozen
- 1 1/2 cup loosely packed spinach, chopped
- 1 medium size carrot, grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 small tomato, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, squeezed
- Grated turmeric
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 heaping tablespoon of soup powder
- A pinch of cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pierce pumpkins with sharp knife around the middle. Microwave for ten minutes. Remove.Cool slightly.
- Saute grated carrot with diced tomato, garlic, and turmeric.
- Cut pumpkins in half along piercing, clean and discard seeds and membranes. Place halves on microwavable dish, microwave for 5 minutes, Remove, let cool off.
- Chop spinach, place in 2-quart pot, add sauteed ingredients.
- Carefully scoop out pumpkin “flesh” so as to leave shells intact. Puree pumpkin in food processor, add to pot, top with water. Note: if it yields more than 2 cups of pumpkin puree, freeze the extra pumpkin for further use. Do not overwhelm this soup!
- Bring to boil, add cilantro, add soup powder, season with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir well, bring to boil again, and turn off.
- Serve in pumpkin half-shells as soup bowls.