Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup
This savory Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup was even better than I expected... and I already love, love, love winter squash! Somehow, despite the house smelling sweetly of cinnamon & toasted pumpkin seeds, this dish is also savory and rich from the addition of cashew cream and white pepper. A big thank you to Mark for being chef of this dish!
Growing pumpkins, for us, has actually gone decently well for our market garden! We start seeds in early May and move them outside after a couple of weeks inside the greenhouse. Why do we move them outdoors so quickly? Simply because they grow really fast! They are planted about 18” to 2 feet apart, in one row per bed. In a perfect scenario, we would put out mulch around the transplants and throughout the aisles... but that was not the case this year. This season we put the seedlings out, lay out the drip line, and tried to hoe the crop as much as possible while we could. Overall, this did a decent enough job of growing pumpkins for us, but it sure would have looked a lot neater with mulch. Another great aid to growing a sweet lil pumpkin patch would be adding ample compost to the soil. The would definitely love that!
The recipe is adapted from Byrant Terry’s Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup, from his Afro-Vegan cookbook. This book is incredible! Not only did it introduce me to tons of inspiring flavor combinations, it also helped remind me to pay special attention to the spices that accentuate that dish. Bryant often uses a mortar and pestle to extract the finest, freshest flavors from whole spices toasted and ground as needed. He also pairs each recipe with a song recommendation to check out while you cook! Plus he is truly focused on what is seasonal, local and fresh! Hero status. Seriously, check out his book!
Here’s the recipe, as Mark modified it:
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 small pumpkin
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
5 cups of vegetable stock (homemade or store bought)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash
1 cup creamed cashews
freshly ground white pepper
One hour before cooking (or overnight if you’re feeling up to it!) soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Cut the top off the pumpkin (and cut the butternut in half if you want to eat those seeds too!) and scoop out the seeds. Put the seeds in a small bowl and drizzle with olive oil, tossing until evenly coated. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned, stirring every five minutes for even cooking. Set aside.
Meanwhile, peel the pumpkin & butternut squash and cut into 1-inch pieces. Put the stock, cinnamon stick, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for five minutes, then add the pumpkin and butternut squash. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately decrease the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 35 minutes. While that’s going on, drain the cashews and put them in a blender with 1/2 cup of fresh water, processing until smooth and creamy. Stir the cashew cream into the pumpkin & butternut squash mix.
Using a standard blender and working in batches, or using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. pour the soup back into the saucepan and cook, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. If necessary, thin with water so the soup pours easily from a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with the toasted pumpkin seeds.