Continuing to eat out of the pantry before the spring growing season, I roasted the remaining cheese pumpkin from the late fall harvest, which had kept surprisingly well, and combined it with a home-canned tomato soup base that was stretching its viable shelf life. Our local CSA farm grows several heirloom varieties for canning, with names like Federale and Amish Paste. When I can those in the normal way, I find that their high water content creates a flavorful but watery mix. So rather than worrying that it won’t thicken into a sauce, I process it in a water bath into a loose, liquid puree, perfect as a base for soup and stew.
For this soup, I first I seeded the pumpkin and cut it into segments to roast in the oven over high heat. The pumpkin, while flavorful, was watery, so I added an orange sweet potato (or yam) to the soup, along with onion, celery, paprika, and chili powder. Pureed, this had a wonderful flavor, creamy texture, and a beautiful color reminiscent of Romesco sauce. Instead of the pepper, I could have used thyme and rosemary. I served the soup with a dollop of sour cream, chopped lovage (though I could have used parsley, chives or cilantro) and homemade oven-crisped croutons, but it holds its own just plain. Although I felt my way through the process for the first time, this could become one of my favorite soups. The ingredients are flexible so I’m sure it will come out a new way the next time based on what’s in the pantry. This soup improved with a day of aging, but was also great fresh off the stove.
Tomato and Pumpkin Soup (6 servings)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1 large orange sweet potato or yam
Vegetable or olive oil
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp chili powder (mine had ground chili pepper plus a tad of nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon)
3 cups roasted pumpkin flesh (see below)
4 cups canned tomato soup base (or use a quart of home-canned whole tomatoes or a large purchased can, buzzing the tomatoes and the liquid in a food processor)
Water if necessary
Optional: a touch of smoked paprika or pimenton
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes: optional sour cream, herbs, croutons, hot pepper flakes
Saute the onion and celery in oil over low heat until soft. Add yam or sweet potato and stir to coat, cooking the ingredients without browning for about 5 minutes. Add paprika and chili powder and stir to combine. Add pumpkin and tomatoes and cook at a simmer, covered for 45-50 minutes, until everything is soft and thoroughly cooked. Add water if the soup is too thick. Puree in food processor and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with optional garnishes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the pumpkin then cut in half and remove the seeds. Cut into chunks, brush with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, then roast skin side up for about 40-50 minutes, or until soft. Cool, then remove the flesh to a bowl.