Deep flavor with a hint of chipotle heat
Autumn is near in our part of the world. That means soup – and pumpkins.
So we decided to combine those two autumn affiliates into one slurpy dish. It’s easy to prepare and makes a stunning starter.
This soup mingles sweet and zesty in a smooth mix. Because pumpkin spice isn’t just about cinnamon. Pumpkins can take the heat.
Recipe: Pumpkin-Spice Pumpkin Soup
We use canned pumpkin in this soup because it’s readily available and good quality. We also add sweet potato to rev up pumpkin’s mild flavor.
Spices and chipotle make this soup bloom. BTW, don’t worry about the chipotle adding too much heat – we include just enough for flavor and interest.
Prep time for this soup is about 15 minutes. Cooking adds an hour or so (most of it unattended). You can prepare this dish a day ahead of time if you wish, then reheat right before serving.
This recipe yields about 4 first-course servings.
Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container. Or you can freeze them for a month or more.
- 1 medium red onion (can substitute yellow)
- 1 sweet potato (8 ounces or so)
- 1 red bell pepper (or a handful of miniature sweet bell peppers; see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin-pie mix)
- 1 chipotle chile pepper (or to taste – see Notes; we use canned chipotles)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground ginger (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 cups chicken stock (may substitute water)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar, if needed
- 2 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream (optional, but tasty)
- garnish of diced bell pepper, miniature bell-pepper slices, or chopped parsley (optional)
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice. Set aside.
- Peel the sweet potato and cut it into dice of ½ inch (or a bit less). Set aside.
- Wash and core the bell pepper, then cut out any white membrane. Cut the bell pepper into dice. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the chopped onion. Add salt to taste. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped bell pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the canned pumpkin, diced sweet potato, and chipotle. Add the spices (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg). Stir to combine, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes (or up to an hour).
- Once the soup is fully cooked, use an immersion blender to break up the chunkier ingredients; blend until you achieve a smooth consistency. Taste, then add more salt if necessary. Add the brown sugar if you want a slightly sweeter flavor. Stir in the heavy cream, if desired (to taste; we use 2 to 6 tablespoons). Cook for another minute.
- To serve, ladle into bowls. Garnish (if desired) with diced bell pepper, slices of miniature bell pepper, or chopped parsley.
- We generally serve this soup as a starter, but you could also use it as a main course. In that case, you’d probably want to add some crusty bread to the menu.
- You can use one large red bell pepper in this dish. Or try some miniature sweet bell peppers (they look like hot chile peppers, but aren’t). These mini bell peppers usually are sold in packages of about a dozen.
- Instead of red bell pepper, you could use orange or yellow. Or a mix of colors.
- Red onion adds depth of flavor to this soup. You could substitute yellow or white onion, but we think the sweetness of red onion works better in this dish.
- Speaking of which, pumpkin takes well to sweetness. So you may want to add some brown sugar to bring out its flavor. Maple syrup would also work. But don’t add too much – this isn’t pumpkin-pie soup.
- You can skip the heavy cream if you want, but we think it adds interest to the soup. Use no more than 6 tablespoons; this soup is better with just a touch of cream.
- We haven’t tried sour cream in this dish, but you could probably substitute that if you wish.
- If you skip the cream, you could add a bit of sherry to finish the dish (we haven’t tried this, but think it would work).
- Chicken stock adds great flavor to this soup, but water works fine too.
- We use canned chipotles in this dish. In the US, canned chipotle chilies usually are sold in 7-ounce cans. The adobo sauce they’re packed in is quite tangy – you could use a teaspoon or so in the soup if you wish.
- Leftover canned chipotle chilies keep for weeks (probably months) if refrigerated in an airtight container. You can also freeze them.
- If you prefer, you could substitute a teaspoon or two of ancho chile powder for the canned chipotle pepper.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger, so they pack a measure less densely). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- BTW, we tend to add much of the salt early in the cooking process – usually when we sauté the onions. That provides a good foundation flavor for the dish. It also means we end up using less salt than if we added it at the end.
“Mr. Pumpkin’s a real smoothie, isn’t he?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“He’s got tempting texture,” I said. “And he gets flavor favors from his sidekick, Sweet Potato.”
“They own autumn,” said Mrs K R. “They’re already plotting to invade holiday tables.”
“They make themselves at home, no matter what’s on the menu,” I said.
“But they never demand the spotlight,” said Mrs K R. “Unlike some turkeys I could mention.”
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Pumpkin-Spice Sweet Potato Pie
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