One of my guilty pleasures is buying the occasional issue of Martha Stewart Living. Really, I’m just embracing my future middle-aged woman self… Anyway, the October issue had this big spread about heirloom pumpkins, which come in a rainbow of colors and textures. But I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to find any of these pumpkins because I don’t live in Martha’s Magical Universe, which is populated by heirloom plants, monogrammed towels, antique glassware, and giant Chow Chow dogs.
As it turns out, you can get heirloom pumpkins in D.C. I found several varieties at the Penn Quarter and Dupont farmers’ markets, including Long Island Cheese pumpkins. I bought a Long Island Cheese because the color and shape was so pretty. They also happen to be good eating pumpkins, and now that Halloween is over, I decided to cook it.
Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup
This recipe is modified from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Silky Coconut Pumpkin Soup from their book Hot Sour Salty Sweet.
I used a Long Island Cheese pumpkin that was about 14″ in diameter (probably 5-6 lbs). To prepare the pumpkin flesh, I cut it into 6 hunks, removed the seeds, and then roasted the slices with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper for about an hour in a 375 degree oven. I then scraped out the flesh and mashed it roughly with a fork. You can prepare this several days ahead.
- 4 cups mashed pumpkin
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 (13.5 oz) cans light coconut milk
- 4 slices of high-quality bacon
- 1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
- 5 shallots, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp sweet curry powder
- 1/2 tsp Thai curry powder
- 1/4 tsp ground tumeric
- 1/4 tsp Thai chili powder (or cayenne powder)
- a couple tsps salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. In a dutch oven or other large pot, cook bacon on low heat until very crispy. Place cooked bacon on paper towels to drain. Pour off excess fat, leaving about 3 tablespoons in the pot.
2. Add onions and shallots. Cook on medium heat until translucent and softened. Add garlic and cook another minute or two more. Stir in mashed pumpkin and cook until pumpkin is heated through.
3. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, and parsley. Bring up to a gentle simmer.
4. Puree soup. If you have an immersion blender, you can do this right inside the pot. If you don’t, you should get one, because it will change your life. Barring that, you can puree the soup in a regular blender.
5. Add spices, fish sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper. Gently simmer for 15 minutes or so to allow flavors to meld. Taste and re-season if needed. Serve soup with pieces of crumbled bacon on top.
Makes about 4 quarts.