I am a big fan of soups in general and this one is a personal favorite. This is a wonderful recipe for the fall; it’s easy, comforting and delicious! It’s also a good way to use all those lovely fall pumpkins that are so abundant this time of year. I highly recommend using the small sugar pumpkin variety for this recipe. If you are unable to find pumpkins, feel free to use butternut or even acorn squash in this recipe.
In India, soup is simply known as “shorba”. This particular recipe may have its origins in North Indian cuisine, but I have adapted the recipe to suit my own tastes. I hope you and your family will enjoy it as much as mine do.
PUMPKIN ADRAK SHORBA (Pumpkin Ginger Soup)
1 lb of orange sugar pumpkin, peeled and cubed (or you can use butternut or acorn squash)
½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2-3 cups vegetable stock (you can use chicken stock or even water)
1-2 bay leaves
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp turmeric
pinch of red chili powder, to taste
2-3 tbsp cream (you can use yogurt)
pinch of sugar, to taste
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
toasted cashew pieces, for garnish (optional)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
For Tempering (Tadka or Phodni): optional
½ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
3-4 fresh curry leaves
2-3 fresh green Thai chilies or 2-3 dried red chilies
pinch of asafetida (hing)
In a large soup pot on medium high heat, combine the orange juice with the vegetable stock. Add the pumpkin cubes, ginger, salt, pepper and the bay leaves. Make sure there is enough liquid to just barely cover the pumpkin, cover, reduce the heat and allow to simmer on low until the pumpkin is tender. This may take up to 30 minutes or so. You may also do this step in a pressure cooker to save some time.
Let the pumpkin mixture cool, then carefully remove and discard the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender or mixer, puree the mixture into a fine consistency and texture. If you prefer, you may even strain the mixture for an even smoother consistency.
Return the pumpkin puree to the soup pot, and keep it on medium low heat. Add the turmeric, ground cumin, red chili powder and sugar (if needed). Adjust any seasonings and bring to a good boil. Let cook another 8-10 minutes before adding the cream and freshly grated nutmeg.
At this point, you could garnish the soup and serve it as is, or you could temper it with the hot oil.
In a small sauce pan on medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is almost to the point of smoking, add the mustard seeds. Do this very carefully because as the mustard seeds hit the hot oil, they will splatter and pop tremendously. After the popping subsides, reduce the heat to low and carefully add the cumin seeds, green (or red) chilies, asafetida and curry leaves. After 5-6 seconds, turn off the heat completely and carefully pour this very hot oil mixture over the pumpkin soup. Garnish and serve.
For a slightly tart/sweet taste, add 1 large Granny Smith apple (peeled and cubed) to the initial cooking process along with the pumpkin cubes. It is a unique and delicious combination!
For a heartier soup, you could add 1 cup of cooked and mashed toor dal to the soup.
For a completely vegan version, use vegetable stock & coconut milk in place of the cream.