Fresh Pumpkin and Chipotle Soup

This time of year, you'll probably see more then a few recipes for pumpkin soup in magazines, online etc.. They usually start with opening a can of pureed pumpkin, sauteing some onions, putting in your spices adding some stock and cream and giving it a whirl in the blender. These can be great. But wait until you try this fresh pumpkin soup. The subtle heat from the smoky chipotle and the savory broth and the delicate pumpkin combine to make one of the most comforting and satisfying soups you'll come across.

This soup is a snap to put together...once you've cut up your pumpkin. Pumpkins are unwieldy, so my approach is horror-film inspired. I'm not the least bit worried about precision and there is nothing pretty about it. I'm wrestling, grunting, hacking and in the end, I am standing amongst pumpkin debris, but alas I have my nice pile of pumpkin flesh. Start by using a sharp knife and cut the top off the pumpkin like you would when making a jack-o-lantern, scoop out the seeds (which you can roast for garnish if you like) and then cut it in wedges. From there you can either peel away the skin with a peeler (very time consuming and not as much fun), or you can cut away the flesh with your knife. I find that to be the easiest way. A medium sugar pumpkin will give you 4-6 cups of flesh. This pumpkin yielded about 5 cups .

The two main flavors in this soup are cumin and chipotle. You can roast and grind your own cumin seeds for a really great flavor, but thanks to McCormick you don't have to do that anymore. They do it for you with their new "Roasted Ground Cumin". It makes a HUGE difference in the flavor so before to use your regular ground cumin, you can toast it in a saute pan over low heat until it just starts to become fragrant. It adds an amazing depth of warmth to the characteristics of the soup.

Chipotle is the other dominant flavor in this soup. Chipotles are smoked - dried jalapeno chiles. In this recipe and many others, the easiest way to incorporate them into a dish is as a puree. Voila, chipotles in adobo. Adobe is basically, "sauce" in Spanish. The chiles are stewed in a tomato, garlic, onion and spice sauce until they are soft. You take one out, scrape off some of the sauce and minced it up into a puree. You can put what you don't use in a glass or plastic container and keep it in the fridge.

Here's the complete recipe...enjoy!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions

1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin from toasted seeds or toasted ground cumin

5 cups chicken stock

3 1/2 cups diced pumpkin flesh

salt

1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and pale green parts

1 1/2 teaspoons pureed chipotle in adobo

For serving you can do all or any combination of Queso Fresco (if you don't have this crumbly mexican cheese, use crumbled goat cheese...it's equally as delicious!) chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds.

In a large pot over medium heat, combine butter and olive oil. Add the onions and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Stir a few times...they should be soft and sweet. Add the cumin and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the stock, pumpkin, and about a teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan, and cook, stirring a couple times, until the pumpkin is tender but still holding it's shape -about 15 minutes.

Stir in the scallions and chipotles, adjust the salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish to your liking. Serve nice and hot. P.S. The pumpkin on the right is the one I used.