Here in Germany, some people started to celebrate Halloween – nowadays, you can even go to parties. But 15 years ago, living in a small town, my friends started the tradition of cooking American food, preferably something hot and watching horror movies. Over the years, we made tons of different things – chili, homemade burgers, spaghetti with meat balls. But one thing remained consistent over the years: pumpkin soup as a starter.
This one is creamy, meaty and bacon-y and of course: hot. But let me assure you: except for the crème fraîche I used for serving, it’s vegan!
1 Hokkaido pumpkin, about 1 kg / 2 pounds
1/4 muscat pumpkin, about 1 kg / 2 pounds
1 large onion, diced
4 red potatoes, peeled and diced
2 fresh chilies, cut into rings
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika powder
1 tablespoon vegetable broth powder
1 can peeled tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
crème fraîche for serving
Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F and search your kitchen for some kind of ovenproof vessel you pumpkin will fit in. In my case, a 9×13 inch pyrex form.
Cut the Hokkaido pumpkin in half and scoop out the innards – personally, I think an ice cream scoop is the best tool for the job. Then place the pumpkin halves in the form, sprinkle with oil, salt, sugar and maybe a little bit paprika powder.
Place the in the oven for about half an hour. Or until the flesh is soft and you have a nice brown crust.
OK, now we can concentrate on the soup itself:
Remove the seeds and peel from the muscat pumpkin, then dice it coarsely. Peel and dice the rest of the vegetables and slice the chilies.
Heat up a big pot, then pour in the oil and start browning the vegetables. Stir often; you’ll want some brown bits for taste.
When the vegetables are starting to get soft, sprinkle with curry and smoked paprika powder.
Look out for this stuff – I bought it in Spain during my vacation, but I’m sure you will find it elsewhere, too.
I don’t like the expression, but this is the “secret ingredient” to the soup. Basically, it gives kind of a subtle bacon flavor.
Next, pour in the peeled tomatoes and enough water to cover and let it cook for around 20 minutes or until you can just mash the vegetables with the back of a spoon.
When it looks like this, puree it with your favorite method – mine being a stick blender. But a stand mixer or food processor will also work fine.
Give it a taste and add salt, pepper, chili sauce and lemon juice accordingly.
To serve, get the pumpkin halves out of the oven and each into a bowl. Fill the soup into the pumpkin bowl and (if you’re not vegan), garnish with a healthy spoonful of crème fraîche.