Pumpkin Soup, hold the spice

Alternative title: Miso over pumpkin spice. It may really be just me, but I am sick to death of pumpkin spice. I love pumpkin and all its winter squash cousins but the pumpkin spice conspiracy to assault your senses all fall is just too much. And so, while I want to want to savor pumpkin muffins and PSL’s, I really don’t want to, because they make me feel like I am eating or sipping a horribly misappropriated Yankee Candle.

Enough already. I prefer pumpkins and their cousins to taste like, well, the pumpkin family. If you don’t believe me, check out these pumpkin all stars. (There’s even a mighty fine pumpkin muffin in there that tastes nothing like a Yankee candle.) ‘Tis the season for orange goodness, and, unlike me, my family can only take so much Sugar and Spice Squash Soup. I needed another comfort soup in the repertoire and I think I’ve found it. This comes from My New Roots, home of the ever brilliant “Dirt Bread” that is the stuff of lusty Hippie dreams.

The original version of this soup uses red pumpkin also known as Kuri or red kabocha. I used cooked kabocha (AKA buttercup) squash because I had it at the ready and because it is mighty dense and creamy. I did not use the gnarly green peel. Butternut squash would also be fab. Or, hey, even an actual pie pumpkin would work (though they are more watery and less sweet and the skin is not for prime time).

This soup is also a fine way to work through the vat of miso that seemed like a good idea when I bought it, which was a while back. Miso adds the funk, or umami if you must, and the variety of toppings lets you totally riff in whatever direction you please. I used some fried shallots (that I bought at the same store where I made my excessive miso purchase), toasted pepitas and chopped pistachios to be X-tra klassy. We had this as just a soup, without the noodles, and it was tremendous, though noodles would be bulk it up into a fab fall dinner. If you want a similar recipe, with mushrooms right in the soup, check out this similar, though non-pureed one here.

Get your pumpkin on, and hold the spice. If you feel cheated you can always light a candle.

Pumpkin Miso Broth with Soba
From My New Roots. Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (olive oil is fine too)
  • 2 medium yellow onion
  • ¾ tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium, 2 lb / 1kg Hokkaido pumpkin (or other favorite hard winter squash)
  • 3 – 4 cups / 750ml – 1 liter water
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp. white or light miso (3 was way plenty and I am a salt fiend)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 175g / 6oz. soba noodles (100% buckwheat)

Toppings:

  • spring onion
  • sesame seeds
  • sautéed shiitake mushrooms
  • seaweed (optional)
  • Other options: fried shallots, chile crisp, diced avocado, toasted pepitas, and so much more

Directions:

1. Roughly chop onions, mince garlic. Wash the pumpkin well (as you’ll be eating the skin), and chop into chunks. (I used kabocha without the peel. Look at your squash, know your audience and use your judgement here)

2. In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and salt, stir to coat and cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are just starting to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for about a minute until fragrant.

3. Add the pumpkin and stir to coat. Add 3 cups / 750ml of water, cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender.

4. While the soup is cooking, prepare the toppings: Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook soba noodles according to package directions, drain and lightly rinse. Slice spring onion, lightly toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes. Sauté mushrooms in a lightly oiled skillet over high heat for 5-7 minutes.

5.Transfer the soup to a blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Add more water if necessary – you’re looking for a creamy consistency, but it should not be thick like a paste. I like the soup to be on the thinner side for this dish. Add the miso, ginger and blend again until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Transfer soup back to the pot and keep warm (reheat if necessary, but try not to boil–miso does not appreciate that).

6. Ladle soup into bowls, top with soba, spring onion, sesame seeds, mushrooms and crumble the seaweed over top. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Many thanks to cousin D for this sign of the season

 

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