Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Curried Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup

curried pumpkin soup

Almost one month ago, I arrived in Toronto, full of terror and excitement, and suddenly surrounded by Starbucks.

Since that day, which feels strangely distant, I've learned many things, such as how to use the subway, open fancy apartment lobbies (not by hitting the touchscreen with your brother's wallet, apparently), to expect and even embrace the random stench of garbage that feels like a punch in the throat, how to use a cellphone (screaming when it rings is not exactly useful as it turns out), that pitchers of sangria are the best thing ever, to always distrust public washrooms, and don't ask women with toddlers for directions - especially when it's raining.

It's been a good time, in short. And now it's almost October, which means several things. Things like the sudden ubiquitousness of all things orange, increased coffee intake, decreased sangria intake, coats, and the end of sandal-wearing days. Some of these things are, clearly, to be lamented. But I'm not here to focus on the negative. I'm here to focus on the orange.

Curried Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup
This soup is rich and full of spice. You can call it a bisque instead of soup if you want to feel fancy and expensive, but don't be intimidated by the list of spices! This soup is not only easy to make, but healthy and inexpensive.

1 Sugar or Pie Pumpkin (the little ones - they have the most flavour)
1 Yellow Onion
3 Green Onions
2 cloves Garlic
Oil or Butter
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 - 1/4 tsp Cayenne (omit if you're sensitive to heat)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Chili Pepper Flakes (optional - again, omit if you don't like heat)
Pinch Nutmeg
Pinch Cloves
Salt & Pepper
6 cups Water or Vegetable Stock
1/2 cup Red Lentils
1 small - medium Sweet Potato

Makes 3 - 4 servings.

pumpkin, deconstructed

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2.Slice pumpkin in half, remove stem. Scoop out the insides and discard. Cut pumpkin into 2-inch chunks. Clean sweet potato and cut into chunks as well (I leave the skin on, but you can peel it if you want to). Toss both pumpkin and sweet potato with a drizzle of oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Spread onto an aluminum foil lined pan. Roast in oven for 35 - 55 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the pumpkin and potato flesh meets no resistance.

3. Let roasted pumpkin cool until comfortable to handle. Remove the skin with a knife and discard.

4. While the pumpkin and sweet potato are roasting, chop both yellow and green onions as well as the garlic. Heat a medium sized pot over low-medium heat, add roughly 1 - 2 tsp of oil or butter, then add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onion begins to brown, about 5 - 10 minutes.

5. Measure all the spices into a small bowl, and when the onions have browned, add the spices all at once and stir together for about a minute. (Just to warn you, you may find yourself choking a little on the fumes - it's because of the cayenne pepper heating up. If you do have respiratory problems, add the cayenne with the stock.)

prepping for soup

6. Now add in the roasted pumpkin and sweet potato, along with the lentils and water or stock. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 15 - 25 minutes, until lentils are cooked.

7. Remove the soup from the element and, if you have an immersion blender, I highly recommend using that to puree the soup until it's smooth and creamy. If not, you can puree the soup in batches in a blender. Be careful not to fill the blender more than halfway, though, as filling it too high would result in an explosion of epic proportions. I also recommend turning on the blender and immediately jumping away, as it will likely still spatter, and trust me from experience, getting spattered with hot soup is not fun.

8. Transfer pureed soup back to pot (if using a regular blender) and season with salt to taste. You can also adjust the level of spice at this point as well.

9. Serve and enjoy! You can also store this soup in the fridge for up to a week. It reheats well and is great when you're in a rush.

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