Helen Cooper includes a recipe for pumpkin soup made from fresh pumpkin in the back of "Pumpkin Soup." Fresh local pumpkins are available from farmers markets and straight from the patch. Remember that large orange pumpkins that are perfect for Halloween jack-o'-lanterns are not the best for cooking. Smaller pie pumpkins (sometimes called sugar pumpkins) have a dense, sweet flesh that work better for most recipes. The seeds from either type of pumpkin are fine for roasting. This recipe for pumpkin soup uses canned pumpkin and is as simple as homemade soup can be. Heating canned pumpkin on the stove top removes the metallic taste often associated with canned food.
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
15-ounce can pumpkin puree
14-ounce can light unsweetened coconut milk
14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
In a large saucepan, cook carrots and onions in canola oil over medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes). Add chicken broth, cover and cook until carrots are soft (about 5 minutes more).
Carefully transfer vegetables and broth into a blender. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and ginger, and blend until smooth. Transfer mixture back to saucepan and heat for another 5 minutes. Add coconut milk and cook until heated through. Milk or water can be added to thin the soup if necessary.
Jan Wharton is a freelance writer who lives in Winston-Salem.