It started with this picture.
This was 2009, aka pre-Pinterest, so it was the cutest pumpkin recipe presentation I had ever seen. I suggested it as a new addition to our family’s Thanksgiving feast that year, and went for it with the help of my Mom and sister. I photo-documented the whole thing, clearly always a blogger at heart, even if my photos weren’t the greatest. The recipe claims 2 hours prep/cook time, I’d say it took us more like 5. That’s because the original recipe from LA Times calls for starting with an entire actual pumpkin rather than the just-as-good canned pumpkin puree that people in the real world are more likely to use.
Being a family that places value on things from scratch, we went for it anyway. It involved a lot of secondary containers and extra sets of hands as we worked the huge batch through the food processor to break down the pumpkin chunks.
Don’t forget that you also have to carve out the minis for those cute pumpkin bowls!
The recipe makes a big batch that serves 12 – could you imagine making a dozen pumpkin bowls? Four was plenty. Here’s the finished product, in our imperfect yet pretty darn cute white pumpkin serving vessels.
We may have slaved for hours, but no one was complaining by the time we were eating it. Working that hard for something can make it taste even better. What sets this pumpkin soup apart from others I’ve seen and tasted, other than the impressive presentation, is the bisque-like texture (thanks to heavy cream) and the sweet spicy flavors (thanks to roasted chiles and maple syrup). And don’t forget the bacon!
In short, it was worth it. For a special occasion, I’d probably do those pumpkin bowls again. But what if I want to eat pumpkin soup every damn day?? And I kind of do. Thankfully, I have smart, resourceful, and talented friends.
My fabulous friend Pam over at Seriously Yum has taught me many kitchen lessons over the years, and has been doing this cooking and writing about it thing way longer than I have. She took on the “full fat, full afternoon” version and successfully cut down on time and calories – down to 100 calories per serving, in fact. Color me impressed. That was a fun collabo – Pam, we need to do it again! Find her lighter, faster version here.
I still seem to tweak the recipe slightly every time I make it, and I now make it at least once a year due to popular demand. Sometimes from myself.
I’ve arrived at this recipe (below), which is a combination of the original and Pam’s. I think the extra creamy texture of the heavy cream is worth the fat content, as is a little extra bacon. However, I’ll likely always use canned pumpkin versus the more time-consuming, straight from the pumpkin patch method. Over time I’ve ditched the Tabasco called for in the original, and stopped concerning myself over some of the details, such as whether my paprika is Hungarian. I also added nutmeg to balance the flavors, and forgot that the original didn’t include it.
I encourage you to taste test along the way and add more heat or mellow it with more sweetness as you go. Therefore, measurements may not be exact and I mean it when I say “to taste”!
I have yet to find canned pumpkin in Dubai…insert sad face here. Thankfully, my family is visiting soon and I’ve asked them to bring me some! We’ve done this before…because we are a totally normal family that travels internationally with canned goods in our suitcases. Until then, enjoy some soup for me!
Laura’s Spiced Pumpkin Soup
3 tbsp butter
3-4 slices bacon
1/4 cup chardonnay
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 serrano chiles (or similar) broiled til skin is charred. Seeds removed, roughly chopped.
2 large cans (or 4 small) pumpkin puree
4 cans chicken broth (about 6.5 cups)
1/4 cup maple syrup (more to taste)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)
2 cups half & half or heavy cream, depending on your diet!
1 tsp nutmeg (more to taste)
Green onion garnish (optional)
Roast the chiles over high heat on a rack or skewer on your stove-top burner, s’mores style. When the skin is charred all over, place the peppers in a paper bag (this helps make it easier to remove the skin). Leave them for about 10 minutes, then remove and peel the skin. Discard the stem and seeds, and chop the peppers coarsely.
In large stockpot, heat butter and bacon over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until bacon starts to get crispy. Add chopped onion and stir occasionally for about 15 minutes, until they start caramelizing. Add chile, mix well.
Add wine, pumpkin and 3 cans broth. Stir well to combine. Add syrup, paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir again. When it starts bubbling, reduce to low and cover. Stir once in a while for about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Return to heat. Stir in cream. Add some or all of the 4th can of broth, checking the texture. Add more syrup, salt or spice to taste. Garnish with green onion or additional nutmeg if desired.