When the nights have drawn in, apart from the color of anything made from pumpkin cheering up dark, cold autumn and winter days, it is warming, satisfying, tasty, and so full of vitamins, minerals and fiber it could qualify as a wonder food.
Having spread across the world from the Americas, it is now a seasonal favorite throughout the winter in German and Eastern European kitchens, often with the addition of herbs and spices used in the local cuisine, such as thyme, paprika and cumin.
This easy recipe is for a roasted, spiced and piquant version of the pumpkin soup enjoyed throughout the autumn and winter in Germany.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP
5lb sugar pumpkin or edible squash (not a good idea to use Halloween type pumpkin)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp smoked paprika (if not available then use unsmoked)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper, more to taste depending on how piquant you like to go
(1 tsp chilli flakes or 1 chopped chilli pepper - optional for those who like it really hot and spicy)
Large apple, peeled, cored and chopped, preferably sour
1 liter chicken or vegetable stock
250 ml water
250 ml natural yoghurt or sour cream
250 ml milk
1 tsp fresh thyme or pinch dried thyme
3 sage leaves finely chopped or pinch dried sage
Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper to taste
It is not necessary to struggle with peeling and chopping an uncooked pumpkin, it can be put into the oven and cooked either whole, if your oven is big enough, or cut in half with cut half facing downwards, and roasted.
Wash the pumpkin thoroughly, making sure both ends are free from any soil or debris.
Oil pumpkin skin lightly with olive, sunflower or vegetable oil, and if baking the pumpkin whole make some random cuts through the skin.
Place a baking sheet or aluminum foil beneath the rack on which the pumpkin is being roasted, this will aid cleaning later as any drips will be caught.
Place pumpkin in oven at 400F for one to one and a half hours. When a knife cuts through the skin easily it is done, however allow a whole pumpkin to cool as despite the previously made cuts it will be filled with steam.
Remove seeds to roast later as a savory and nutritious snack.
Remove flesh from pumpkin.
Puree. This should give about 2 to 3 lbs of pureed pumpkin, and can be done the day before it is needed and then refrigerated. It is also possible to use the same quantity of tinned natural pumpkin puree.
In pan heat oil and cook onions until soft, add spices, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin and chilli flakes if using, stir through and continuing to stir cook for a further minute.
Add chopped apple, pumpkin puree, thyme and sage and stir.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add chicken or vegetable stock and water and stir through.
Bring to boil, partially cover and cook over low heat until apple is soft.
Add yoghurt or sour cream, bring gradually back to boil and puree with a hand blender, or transfer portions to a food processor.
If it is too thick for your taste add milk until you achieve the desired consistency.
The soup can be successfully frozen at this stage.
Reheat before serving.
For a color contrast decorate the soup with any herb sprig you have available, could be thyme, sage, chives, coriander/cilantro, finely chopped salad onion or, a favorite in Germany, a sprinkling of paprika.
This is a delicious and substantial pumpkin soup, and can served with crusty bread or with toasted cheese croutons, either floating on the surface or on a separate serving dish.
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