So Many Ways to Love Pumpkin Squash Soup
Let me tempt you with my favorite seasonal soup: Pumpkin Squash Soup. This recipe evolved from my stove top and continues to change, never the same soup each time. As a girl, soup was always a comfort, just as much as the English tea that my Nana made me when I was feeling, tired, cold, or a little blue. When the pumpkins come out in October, I begin to crave pumpkin squash soup. I also love to roast the pumpkin and butternut squash in the oven, filling my little kitchen up with the wonderful aroma of autumn. Here in California we may not have true seasons, but we have pumpkin patches for the kids to play in while we select our Halloween pumpkins. We also have the beautiful ocean and glorious weather.
Sunday is my day to cook and I’ve had this soup on my mind all week. My youngest daughter loved running on the beach before we had our late Sunday afternoon lunch of this soul warming pumpkin squash soup.
Pumpkin and butternut squash transform into an aphrodisiac meal with a splash of cream, a sprinkle of curry spices, fresh-grated nutmeg and turmeric root and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil. This recipe has been a favorite for several Thanksgivings. I want to give you the foundation of this soup so that you can change it however you’d like.
There are so many ways to love Pumpkin Squash Soup. The main ingredient I find essential to this particular soup is cashew. Cashews give a fabulous texture and velvety, creamy weight to the soup without the need for butter and cream. However, that said, I do add butter and cream now and then to be indulgent. It is not necessary, so if you want the pleasure of a creamy soup that is low-fat and healthy, just use cashews. If you want to make it decadent, add the butter and cream with the cashews. See how versatile this delicious soup can be?
You can make it with an Asian/Indian flair adding coconut cream, which is complimentary to the use of cashews and becomes East Indian-inspired with the curry spices and a garam masala of coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cumin, and nutmeg. Fresh grated turmeric root and even ginger might add a little spice to your soup. You can garnish your soup with cilantro and kaffir lime leaves to make it more exotic.Perhaps a few cardamom pods to top the soup?
Or you can give it a cozy feeling with brown butter, sage, nutmeg and whole milk cream. Freshly grated nutmeg is not only aromatic but it is a proven aphrodisiac.
Here is the foundation of this soup:
PUMPKIN + BUTTERNUT SQUASH + CASHEWS + CURRY
Then you can add these flavor combinations:
Honey toasted hazelnuts
Garam Masala spice
Fresh turmeric root
Caramelized red onions
Pumpkin Squash Soup
6 tbsp. olive oil
generous splashes of marsala or sherry
2 ½ to 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of milk or cream (substitute coconut cream)
1 cup cashews, soaked in stock
Maldon sea salt
Curry powder (or) spice blends with:
Cumin, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron
Dollops of honey
Brown butter (optional)
OPTIONAL FLAVORS & GARNISH
Crème fraîche (or) heavy cream
Toasted ground hazelnuts
Breadcrumbs & caramelized red onions
Roasting the pumpkin & squash
Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Cut up your pumpkin and squash. Core the pumpkin/squash of seeds, and cut away from the hard outer skin. Chop the flesh of the pumpkin/squash into cubes. Place the cubes of pumpkin/squash in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil generously and toss. Add the chopped shallots to the bowl and splash with marsala (or sherry), sprinkling with curry spices and a generous pinch or two of sea salt. Toss until all of the pieces are well covered with the olive oil, marsala and spices. Pour the bowl out onto a large sheet pan or roasting pan to roast, and place in oven. Roast until lightly golden, about 1 hour.
Prepare the soup
Remove your roasted pumpkin/squash from the oven. Pour it into your stock pot or a large pot. I prefer clay pots. Add the cashews soaked in stock (with the liquid) and then pour in stock just enough to cover the pumpkin/squash mixture. Allow the soup to mellow in the pot for awhile before blending.
Puree and season
Ladle your soup into a high speed, heat resistant blender (I prefer Vitamix) and puree until smooth. This is where the cashews work their magic. If you want to add some heavy cream (or coconut cream) to the blending process, now is the time. Blend in batches and transfer the pureed soup into a clean pot on the stove.
Time to season...
Use whatever flavor combinations you like. I use a curry spice blend that has cumin, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron. I also add freshly grated turmeric root, known for its aphrodisiac powers and excellent health benefits. Nutmeg is also a euphoric and aphrodisiac spice. Freshly grated into your soup and used as garnish, nutmeg brings out the flavor of pumpkin in such a marvelous way.
Ladle your soup into a pretty bowl and garnish as you please. Serve with a crusty baguette. Savor.
Aphrodisiac & Health Benefits of...
Turmeric The "golden root" of turmeric, a rhizome similar to ginger, is a potent medicinal herb. Anti-inflammatory, lowers trigylceride levels, has antiseptic properties, and soothes digestion. Turmeric has a beautiful bright orange color. Great for skin, turmeric is fabulous for many other reasons. Spicy, bitter and warming, turmeric warms up your pumpkin soup with a blissful boost of benefits.
Pumpkin Seed Oil High in zinc, essential for testosterone levels, pumpkin seeds are good for the libido in both men and women. Lowers the risk of prostate cancer, improves bladder and prostate function, good for insomnia and other health reasons, pumpkin seed oil is also high in carotenoids and antioxidants.
Nutmeg Highly prized by Chinese seductresses as an aphrodisiac, nutmeg can warm up a lover to euphoric heights. Freshly grated pods smell fabulous and enhance pumpkin soup in a way that true sensualists love to love.
Cinnamon increases sex drive, reduces urinary tract infections, is great for diabetics in regulating blood sugar, lowers high blood pressure, and smells wonderful. Cinnamon is best for sweet seduction by baking with it, as its fragrance is the top scent known to inspire desire in men. Inspire and desire, two words that you want to associate with cinnamon. Aphrodisiac? Yes. Neurologists at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation have found that certain scents such as cinnamon buns are the best aphrodisiacs for men. The sweet scent of pumpkin pie is also high on the list. It seems cinnamon has the greatest aphrodisiac affect, so why not spice up your pumpkin soup with it?
Cardamom This exotic spice is beneficial to our health in many ways. Good for digestion, calming the nerves, rich in phytochemical compounds that enhance romance and wellness, cardmom is used in savory and sweet dishes.
Coriander A merchant in the ancient tale of Arabian Nights was cured of infertility by a concoction of coriander.