Use your Halloween pumpkins for a spicy soup

What are you planning to do with all those leftover pumpkins now that it’s Halloween and Jack-O-Lantern season is fading fast? Look no further than a pumpkin soup recipe from Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing.

The authors of this cookbook, Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel, are mostly focused on the healthy side of eating, but they would probably appreciate resourcefulness, as well. They want you to look at food as medicine for your body, soul and community, citing studies that found higher rates of cancer in those who have immigrated to the US and adopted the standard United States diet that is rich in white bread and sugar.

This cookbook strives to return focus to Mesoamerican staples. There are the familiar chiles, beans, quinoa and corn. Less familiar to many, foods like hibiscus, jicama, and nopales play heavily in this book too. No matter your ancestry, the recipes in this book are intriguing and healthful, as plant-based cuisine tends to be.

Now back to that pumpkin soup. Calvo and Esquibel’s soup recipe is spectacular. It is warming both in temperature and in the heat of the chipotles. In short, it is the perfect soup for a brisk fall day, or a spooky Halloween night.

Chipotle Pumpkin Soup Alchemy adapted from Decolonize Your Diet by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel

  • 3 15 oz. cans of pumpkin purée (not the pie filling!), or 7 lb. cooking pumpkin you’ve cooked yourself-I opted for cans!
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle (I realized I only had pre-ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle (again, I only had pre-ground)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. (I used 2) chipotles in adobo (available canned although there is a recipe in the book should you want to make your own)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. ground oregano (Mexican oregano if available!)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds aka pepitas
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice (please squeeze it fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 6 leaves cilantro
  • there is an optional “Cashew Crema” recipe which I opted out of

In a large pot on medium-high heat sauté the onions in olive oil for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1 tablespoon of the chipotles in adobo. Stir and cook one minute. Add pumpkin, cinnamon stick, vegetable stock, oregano and salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it! I notices mine bubbling and sputtering in a rather messy way from time to time and needed to adjust the temperature.

While the soup is cooking, heat a dry frying pan over high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast until they puff a bit and turn brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

After the 30 minutes take the cinnamon stick out of the soup. If you have an immersion blender, now is it’s time! Take the pot off heat, get your blender in there and blend it up. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular one but be careful. You’ll possibly need to blend in batches. Hold the lid with a towel so you don’t get steam burns and the lid doesn’t burst, covering your kitchen in soup. Pulse the soup, then let steam out. Do this a few times then eventually you can gradually blend continuously starting with low speed and gradually building. If you need it to be thinner now is the time to add more stock. I don’t have a regular blender so I wasn’t able to try their technique for you but it sounds appropriately cautious.

Add the lime juice and maple syrup. Now taste and adjust seasonings. I added more chipotle in adobo. Put in bowls and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Be comforted. Be happy. And healthy, too.