Recipe: Pumpkin Soup With Asian Flair

Traditional pumpkin soup gets an Eastern kick thanks to bright and fragrant Thai herbs and spices.

Americans tend to associate pumpkins with the large versions used to make jack-o’-lanterns, which aren’t very good to cook with. Instead, look for smaller, more tender varieties, such as Cinderella, Fairytale, and Long Island Cheese. Every one of my restaurants has a version of soup made from these pumpkins, which are mild by nature and a good canvas on which to play with herbs and spices, or to add smoky and briny flavors. For this recipe, fragrant Thai red curry lends flavors that are both exotic and friendly. A very simple gluten-free cracker made from chia and pumpkin seeds adds a contemporary crunch. Pumpkin soup can be a warm and satisfying weekend lunch, but it also serves as an unexpected appetizer for a traditional holiday meal.

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pumpkin soup
Gentl and Hyers

Baked chia- and pumpkin-seed crackers add snap to this rich soup. The bowl is from .

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Chia and Pumpkin Seed Crackers

Makes 8 servings

For the soup:

2 T unsalted butter

1 small leek, white and light green parts only, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

2 stalks celery, trimmed and sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

6-inch piece of lemongrass, thinly sliced

3 T Thai red curry paste

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Sugar pumpkin or Cheese pumpkin (or substitute 2 butternut&squashes), peeled ,seeded, and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks

10 cups unsalted chicken or vegetable stock

1⁄2 cup heavy cream1⁄4 cup plain yogurt

3 sprigs cilantro, leaves only

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Warm the butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat and add the leek, onion, and celery. Place the garlic and lemongrass in a cheesecloth sachet and add to the pot, along with the curry paste. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but not browned. Add the pumpkin, cook 5 minutes more, and then add the stock and cream. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Discard the sachet. In batches, puree the soup in a blender; season with salt and pepper. Pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve and serve hot, or set aside to cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The soup may be stored over- night and reheated. Garnish with the yogurt, cilantro leaves, and crackers.

pumpkin soup
Gentl and Hyers

Mild Fairytale pumpkins are perfect for soup, but other varieties, as well as butternut squash, also work well.

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For the crackers:

1 cup chia seeds

2⁄3 cup raw, shelled, unsalted pumpkin seeds

1 cup water

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, folding until mixed. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spray with cooking spray. Spread the seed mixture thinly on the tray. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the tray but keep the oven hot. Cut the crackers into 2-inchsquares while still warm using a pizza wheel or large knife. Return to the oven and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, until crispy. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tray.

What To Drink

pumpkin soup
Gentl and Hyers

“You could pair a white or red wine quite comfortably with this soup,” says Raj Vaidya, head sommelier of Daniel restaurant. “For a white, I like a Riesling to match the sweet flavor of the pumpkin yet contrast with the spice. Jurtschitsch’s Riesling Heiligenstein 2015 [$34], a dry style from the Kamptal in Austria, has the right balance of fruit and earthiness. An interesting red would be Stolpman Vineyards’ Combe Trousseau 2016 [$30], a grape native to France but also grown in California. The savory notes and acid pair beautifully with the curry and the garlic in the crackers, while the sour cherry matches the fruitiness of the pumpkin.”

This story was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Siweb.

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