When my 4 children were in elementary school and I had just begun teaching cooking in my home, I liked to try new recipes on them and their dad for dinner. On this particular week, I was working on a pumpkin soup recipe for a Thanksgiving class.
They all agreed my first try was a little too thin, so the next day I reduced the chicken broth and added cream. “Good texture,” they said after sampling it for dinner, “but a little boring.” The following day I sauteed onions and leeks and added an assortment of spices. “Do we have to eat this again?” they whined, taking one bite and pushing their bowls away. “It’s too spicy,” they grumbled.
I knew the spices weren’t quite balanced, so for my next try I added some curry powder and reduced the cayenne. I set it on the table and called them to dinner. They sat down, took one look at their bowl of pumpkin soup, and before even tasting it chimed in unison, “It’s perfect!”
It probably was close to perfection back then, but when I retested it, I realized how much our taste has evolved through the years. We are eating foods far more heavily seasoned than we used to, so I've upped all the spices. For me, it is perfection, but if you like more heat, throw in a dash of siracha.
PERFECT PUMPKIN SOUP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 pound cooked canned or fresh pumpkin puree
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder, to taste
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 3 drops Siracha sauce, optional, to taste
½ cup heavy cream
Pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas), toasted at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, for garnishing
Heat olive oil in a medium-size soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion, leek and ginger for 1 minute. Cover with wax paper and a lid and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, or until soft but not brown, stirring occasionally.
Stir in pumpkin, chicken broth, salt, curry powder and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Puree the mixture in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.
MAKE AHEAD: The soup may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen.
Before serving, return soup to pot. Add cream and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Adjust seasonings, adding Siracha, if desired. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and a sprig of thyme.
Makes 6 servings.