I was at a dinner party last night when the conversation turned to cigarette smoking. All the former smokers were commiserating about how it just got too darn inconvenient—and too socially deviant—to smoke in this country, at least here .in the health-conscious and politically correct Bay Area. Then someone brought up Ardi Rizal, the chain-smoking 2-year-old Indonesian boy made famous by a youtube video revealing his habit and the group quickly turned bashing American cigarette makers for pushing their wares in developing countries where restrictions are limited if not nonexistent. “They have to sell their cancer sticks somewhere, right?” snorted one lifetime nonsmoker. “Vy don’t dey just grow pumpkins instead?” A boyishly handsome German man asked in a thick accent with a heavy dose of wide-eyed earnestness.
Sure pumpkins aren’t as addictive as heroine, like cigarettes are, but they leave a much better taste in your mouth. And, well, there’s the fact that they don’t cause cancer. Plus—bonus!—they’re even packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Suffice to say, all the cool kids are eating this soup. I’m pretty sure you’d look cooler if you did, too. You won’t even have to go outside into the cold to partake and no one—not even moms with small children—will give you dirty looks if they happen to pass by while you’re doing it. Go ahead and try it, and I bet you’ll crave it again and again.
This soup and mint cream can be made a couple of days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge. Add the half-and-half just before serving.Print
Adapted from The Savory Way, by Deborah Madison.
Madison is a genius of vegetarian cooking and her version of this soup is amazing, though much more labor-intensive than mine. I’ve simplified it by using canned, puréed pumpkin in place of fresh roasted winter squash and cooking ground spices right along with the vegetables instead of using whole spices to make a milk infusion. I also puréed the fresh mint with sour cream for a pretty and flavorful garnish.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large white or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 large jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
- 1 large (28-ounce) can puréed pumpkin
- 5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water
- 1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves, plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- In a stockpot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add onions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent (5 to 7 minutes).
- Add cinnamon, cloves, and jalapeno, give it a couple of stirs, and continue to cook for another minute.
- Add pumpkin purée, broth or water, and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While soup is cooking, make the mint cream. Place the mint leaves in a food processor and process until minced.
- Add the sour cream and process until well combined. Set aside.
- Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a countertop blender or food processor), purée the soup until smooth.
- Just before serving, reheat the soup over medium heat. Stir in half-and-half and continue heating until hot, but do not bring to a boil.
- Serve the soup garnished with a swirl or dollop of the mint cream and a sprig of mint.