Our shih tzu gets a special treat a couple of times a month, in order to vary her diet away from her dried food – boiled chicken mixed with rice.
Needless to say, I end up with what seems like gallons of chicken stock that resides in the freezer, and I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, or inventing new ones to use it up.
Lately, I’ve also had an abundance of an early variety kabocha squash from the garden that I’m putting to use. Kabocha are a green Asian pumpkin, similar in texture to that of a butternut squash, and some varieties get very large.
I recently concocted this pumpkin soup recipe to use up both my kabocha and my chicken stock horde, based off my memory of the soups that I’ve tried in several French bistro style restaurants (where fine dining actually means good food). It’s a nice direction to take if you’re a bit tired of the traditional pumpkin pie route.
You can easily double this recipe and keep some leftovers – this soup is similar to a good chili or pot of beans, in that it gets better with age (well, at least for awhile… if green mold starts to develop, definitely toss it)!
- Don’t be afraid to reduce or even eliminate the heavy whipping cream. For lower calorie fare, you can completely skip it, add just a small amount, or switch to a light cream or half and half. For a different taste, you can also substitute regular or light sour cream, or even coconut milk in.
- I like to use my prized copper pots when dealing with dishes that contain cream or dairy, as they give me great control over the heat – which means no scorching.
- For the vegetarian crowd, the chicken stock can be replaced with vegetable broth.
- While creaming the pumpkin, make use of a portable blender (i.e. an immersion blender). Simply place it straight into the cooking pot, rather than shifting all of the ingredients back and forth to your food processor or stationary blender.
- Don’t have access to fresh pumpkins? Not a problem – the canned version can be used instead. Be sure to purchase the pure non-sweetened kind, NOT the pie filling, as it has sweeteners and spices added.
- Acorn and butternut squashes (and probably some other heirloom squash varieties) make for excellent substitutes for the pumpkin.
- Don’t be afraid to play with the spices – the recipe given below is the base version. This is one of those recipes that can be given a different flair for whatever kind of taste you’re going for. For a more Indian or Thai flavor, try adding some red curry along with a little red pepper, and perhaps a dash of ginger (either powdered or freshly minced). For another spin on an Asian-style taste, add just a little sweetener (1/3 cup of sugar or 5 tablespoons of honey), a touch of ginger, and some dried jujubes (the fruit – not the candy), and make it thicker with a little rice flour.
- If you don’t have access to a spice ball for easy removal of the whole spices, feel free to substitute the powdered versions – or make your own with a piece of cheesecloth tied tightly with twine. Just fish it out before serving.
Family Verdict: The entire family finds this soup to be very tasty. This recipe became a huge favorite for both grownups and the kids as well. It works better as side dish rather than main meal for most families, but if you aren’t the typical American who must have meat with each meal (unlike my two boys and my bigger little boy…) this could be the primary course.
Recommended: We will definitely be making this for both our own meals, and serving it to guests. I plan on playing with the recipe some more to extract different tastes. For a prettier presentation at a fancy meal, you can even serve it in the scooped out kabocha squash or pumpkin.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!