The pumpkin challenge would certainly not be complete without some sort of soup. Roasted vegetable soups are such a great way to incorporate some of those boring healthy veggies and warm up on a cold fall night. Generally I like to plan ahead with these recipes so I know exactly what I’m going to make each night. But this soup just sort of sprang itself on me. Overwhelmed by copious amounts of pumpkin recipes (I even have a whole cookbook dedicated to the squash), I needed to step back and choose something simple. My cousin Hallie and I hadn’t seen each other in ages so we planned a slumber party-slash-pumpkin soup making fest. Yes, I just spelled out the word ‘slash’. I wanted to make sure you said it out loud in your head. Anyway, we hit the grocery store and stocked up on everything we needed for the soup. Walking out my front door is extra fun now that it looks like a rave took place on our stoop thanks to all the leftover glitter. I think I will be finding glitter in my apartment for a long time — there are even flecks on my face if the light catches me just so.
When you step into my local grocery store, you are greeted by the cheery sight of sugar pie pumpkins piled high. They are nestled between stalks of Indian corn (are we still allowed to call it that?) in various autumnal shades and bushels of crisp red apples. One little pumpkin weighed almost three pounds! It was like adopting a puppy — they were so cute and I wanted to take them all home with me!
Peeling and hacking open this adorable pumpkin proved more difficult than I imagined. I’m amazed I still have all my fingers. Like Vivian Ward’s escargot at that fancy dinner, they’re slippery little suckers. Once I got into a groove with the potato peeler, the skin came off rather smoothly. Slicing this bad boy in half was the bigger challenge. These pumpkins seem denser than the larger, carving variety. Also, it’s easier to slice into the bigger pumpkins because there’s just more surface to work with.
Stripping vegetables of their outer skin always makes them look a little sad and naked. So naturally the next step is to cut them in half, robbing them of what little dignity they had left. Look at all that crazy seed business going on in there! I scooped out the flesh and hollowed out the inside of the pumpkin, prepping it for its trip to the oven. Sifting through the stringy, goopy mess to sort out all the seeds, I remembered that I don’t like pumpkin seeds. This could pose a problem as I plan to work with many more pumpkins and most pumpkins are filled with seeds. I’m not a huge fan of the toasted pumpkin seed movement. So I’m still looking for ideas as to what to do with them. Maybe granola? We shall see…
To the cubed pumpkin we added a quartered onion, a couple cloves of garlic and an obscene amount of mushrooms. This is where things got weird. The recipe called for two shitake mushrooms. Let’s revisit the conversation that went on between my cousin and me in the mushroom section of the grocery store:
“It only calls for two mushrooms.”
“That’s ridiculous. How can it only need two mushrooms?”
“Maybe it means two big mushrooms. What do shitake mushrooms look like?”
“I have no idea. Let’s just get this pint of mushrooms and wing it.”
“Cool. I’m hungry.”
So we got way too many mushrooms. A visit to the farmers’ market the next day revealed to us that shitake mushrooms are in fact huge like misshapen portabellas with stems. Fortunately we both love mushrooms, so it wasn’t such a bad place to be. It’s not like adding too much salt or seasoning — although it did basically change the entire structure of the soup. Hence why I changed the title of this dish from ‘Roasted Pumpkin Soup’ to ‘Roasted Pumpkin MUSHROOM Soup’. In our version of this soup, Diana Ross is the mushroom and the Supremes are the pumpkin.
Mushroom overload aside, the roasting vegetables filled my whole apartment with an intoxicatingly delicious aroma. I can’t get over how easy this soup was. Seriously. Cut vegetables. Roast. Blend. Eat. The blending is the most fun — if you have a handy dandy immersion blender. Although, if you’re not careful, this can result in scalding hot partial soup liquid splattering you in the face. So try not to get carried away with the blending.
Due to my heavy hand with the mushrooms, the soup wasn’t as orange as I would have liked. But that will be remedied when I make another variety of pumpkin soup in the coming days. We topped our steaming bowls of soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt for that creamy, cool zip. Then we sat down to watch MacGyver. The greatest show ever.
“Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.” That’s what we would have said before sitting down to gobble up this scrumptious fall meal…were it mac and cheese from a box. But it was far from a microwaveable dinner and I think even Kevin McCallister would have been impressed. Hell, he probably wouldn’t even have noticed he was getting his daily dose of beta carotene.