Thursday, August 29, 2013

Calabaza Pumpkin Soup with Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Goat Cheese


We have a nice little farmer's market near our house on Wednesday mornings. And lest you grammar mavens out there think I'm off my game, there is only one farmer at this market. Anyway, after a few weeks, I asked about a beautiful but intimidating sounding vegetable that had been showing up: the Calabaza pumpkin. I was told that this pumpkin is similar to what is used in the canned pumpkin you buy in the store, even though it isn't Jack o' Lantern orange on the outside. With a flesh-to-seed ratio that's more like a cantaloupe than a standard carving pumpkin, it's easier to work with. And it's wonderfully sweet and delicious.

If you're not familiar with these pumpkins, here's what they look like. With a spool of thread for scale. That's a normal unit of measurement, right?

I invented this little soup to use up the pumpkins that we started buying on a weekly basis. So, even though it doesn't feel like fall (it's sunny and in the 80s outside my window), here's my first pumpkin recipe of the season.

This soup is delicious and a huge hit with my toddler. She's iffy about goat cheese sometimes, so I swirl some in instead of leaving it on top. She loves the crispy/spicy/sweet pumpkin seeds, too. And just the fact that this comes from a pumpkin - I mean, what kid doesn't love pumpkins?

This would also be a lovely purée for a baby. If you do that, obviously omit the seeds, seed ingredients, milk, and goat cheese, if your baby isn't ready for cheese yet.

Calabaza Pumpkin Soup
Makes about 6 cups of soup

Printable Version Here

1 good sized calabaza pumpkin
1 leek, white and light green parts
1 clove garlic
4 tsp. good quality extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1/4 c. whole milk
dash of cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus some extra to sprinkle on the seeds
a few ounces of goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste (I love Szechuan pepper here)

Preheat oven to 400.

1. Cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pumpkin bits in the middle. Pick out the seeds (don't worry if you miss a few) and reserve.

2. Brush insides with 2 teaspoons olive oil and place cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for an hour and 15 minutes, or until it is slightly bubbly and browned on top and easily pierced.
3. Remove the pumpkin from the baking dish and add the pumpkin seeds, tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil*, a dash each of cinnamon and cayenne, and generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. You'll hear the seeds start to pop around 5 minutes - that's normal. After 10 minutes of baking, stir in maple syrup and return to oven for another 3-5 minutes.
4. Chop the leek and rinse it well - I find it easier to chop and then rinse since there's usually grit inside.
5. Sauté the leek and garlic in 1 teaspoon of olive oil until vegetables soften (about 10 minutes). While vegetables are cooking, scoop out the pumpkin flesh and add it to the pot.
6. Purée the pumpkin/leek/garlic mixture, adding enough vegetable stock to make the consistency smooth.
7. Return purée to stock pot, adding the remaining stock and milk. Warm through.
8. Ladle the soup in bowls and top with a bit of crumbled goat cheese and some roasted pumpkin seeds.

*I use my Stonybrook Farm Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil for this step. It's amazing, and it's made by an awesome company.

Bon Appétit!