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Pumpkin Soup

This unique twist on a traditional pumpkin soup is sure to warm you up on a crisp fall day.

I love soup. Especially in the fall/winter. Especially squash based soup. For me, it doesn't get any better than a butternut squash or pumpkin based soup. Which drives my husband nuts-as he hates that type of soup because it essentially "just tastes like blended baby food." His words.

So...I wanted to find a unique, grown-up pumpkin soup to try out this week to get him to change his mind. I wanted something sophisticated and delicious: something that would make an excellent start to a delicious fall meal. What I found was in a cookbook I got for my wedding. This pumpkin soup we are about to try is flavored with coconut milk- giving this soup a sweet taste...and jalapenos-which adds a very spicy flavor. If you're looking for some bland hospital-type food, this is not for you. It's intense, different, and really tasty!

Pumpkin Soup (Better Homes and Gardens: Bridal Edition Cookbook)
Serves 8 (side-dish servings)

Ingredients:
1 cup sliced carrot (2 medium)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped green sweet pepper (1 large)
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 15 oz can pumpkin (or substitute fresh pumpkin puree!)
1 14 oz can unsweetened light coconut milk
1 14 oz can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 medium fresh jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp fresh cilantro or parsley

Directions:
1) In a large saucepan cook carrot, sweet pepper, and onion in hot oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender. Remove from heat. In a bowl combine pumpkin, coconut milk, and broth. Stir in brown sugar, jalapeno pepper, salt, and ginger. Stir pumpkin mixture into cooked vegetable mixture.
2) Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro or parsley before serving.

Rate it!:
Rating: B-
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: Roughly $12.00
Cost per Serving: $1.50
Bad Breath Factor: This soup is gum worthy, mainly because of how spicy it is.

Suggestions:
1) Jalapeno pepper: really, be sure to finely chop this. FINELY chop it. I ended up with a mouth full of jalapeno pepper at one point-which I loved, but some people will not. Also, be careful when handling jalapeno or any hot pepper: don't touch your face/eyes and wash your hands afterwards. Sensitive people should wear gloves as the juice can really burn some people. I used some jalapeno slices from a jar we have (we bought a 2 lb jar of jalapenos from Costco...we have plenty!) and that worked fine.
2) Stir frequently or the soup will burn to the sides/bottom of your pan.
3) Have fun with toppings: I love putting toppings on my soup. Try toasted pumpkin seeds!
4) Coconut milk: I usually don't like coconut milk-it's too much for me. It worked in this soup, but I would consider substituting something in the place of the coconut milk. Maybe evaporated milk or condensed milk instead, or doing half regular milk and half coconut. Again, it was good-I'm just not a huge coconut fan.
5) Serving size: This soup really will go a long way. You won't want to have it as a main dish because it's so flavorful that in large quantities it's too much. It is the perfect start to a meal however, and since it's so easy to make it's an easy way to impress company.
6) This does turn out pretty spicy, which I love. If you don't, than adjust the amount of jalapeno that you put in.

My husband ate a whole bowl. That should tell you: this turned out really well! It is delicious, has a lot of flavor, and is a fun and festive way to begin a meal. I would highly suggest giving it a try. And it only had 94 calories per serving (according to the cookbook) so it's really low cal!

Next week, we'll toast some pumpkin seeds and try out another brand new recipe: Baked Stuffed Pumpkin. This is another one I've never tried before and sounds like a delicious, sweet side dish. And it's served inside of a whole pumpkin! Great presentation! Can't wait to try it out!

Enjoy Ballston!

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