Just in time for the holidays, this season-inspired pumpkin-garlic-sage-soup with a hint of cheese is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
It’s been raining pumpkins in my local grocery store and I simply could not pass up the opportunity to grab the little beauties and make the ultimate comfort dish: sizzling, hot, cheesy, pumpkin soup seasoned with garlic and sage. Serving it in the scooped out, pumpkin shells is my salute to nature and adds a pleasing, rustic touch. I could swear that the soup somehow tastes better served in the pumpkin shells, but you can be the judge. The sage and thyme add an earthy flavor, and the sharp cheese just the right hint of creaminess without overwhelming the palate (or your calorie budget!:). The cranberry garnish adds just the right hint of unexpected tartness (and holiday spirit) to top it off!
Servings : Makes 4.5-5 cups of soup, about 5, 1 cup servings
5, mini pumpkins approximately 3″ in diameter (Figure 1)
2 heaping tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 -1 tbsp of freshly chopped garlic, or per taste
1 and 1/3 cup parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 ” dice
1/2 cup carrots, cut into 1/2 ” dice
1/2 cup red skinned potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 “dice
2 tbsp fresh, finely chopped sage + 2 tbsp for garnish
1/2 tsp dried thyme, or per taste
1 small stick cinnamon
1/4-1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth or water
3-4 tbsp freshly shredded, sharp cheese + 2-3 tbsp for garnish
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Palm full of cranberries for garnish and decoration if desired (optional)
- Wash pumpkins and pat dry.
- With a sharp knife, slice off the top of the pumpkins to make the bowls.
- Using a small melon scoop, scrape out the insides of the pumpkins carefully to remove most of the flesh and discard the seeds. Be careful to not break through the shell of the pumpkin as you scrape the flesh out. You should get about 2 cups of pumpkin flesh between all the mini pumpkins. The mini pumpkin shells can hold roughly 3/4 cup to up to one cup of the soup. Place the pumpkin flesh in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of the olive in a large, thick bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.
- Add the cinnamon stick and the garlic and saute the garlic until it turns a light golden brown. Watch for signs of burning and adjust the heat as needed.
- Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add parsnips, potato, thyme and sage, stirring for a few more minutes, then add carrots, stirring until the vegetables begin to soften a little.
- Add the reserved pumpkin flesh from step 3, stirring for a couple of minutes until pumpkin blends with the remaining vegetables in the pan.
- Add 2.5 cups of the broth or water and bring the mixture in the pan to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to ensure that the vegetables do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover tightly with a lid and allow the soup to simmer on low heat until all the vegetables are soft and have cooked through.
- Add salt and pepper, and season to taste.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly
- Use an immersion blender to break up the lumps and process the soup to a pureed consistency. Alternatively, use a blender or food processor to blend the vegetable mixture to a puree.
- Return the pureed mixture to the pot.
- Add remaining broth and cook through until desired “soup” consistency is reached.
- Stir in cheese and cook, stirring on low heat until the cheese melts.
- This soup should be somewhat thicker than regular soup before it is served, because of the potatoes and parsnips.
- Ladle the soup equally between the prepared pumpkin shells.
- Garnish with the remaining cheese sage, and freshly grated nutmeg.
- Place a cranberry in the center of the cheese-sage garnish and serve hot.
A Registered Dietitian’s tip: Pumpkin is abundant in Beta carotene, an antioxidant which is a precursor of Vitamin A in the body. Antioxidants help fight free radicals that can cause oxidative damage in the body. When oxidative damage continues unchecked, it can potentially lead to chronic disease. Including brightly colored fruits and vegetables in the diet is one of the most practical ways of building your antioxidant arsenal, as antioxidants impart bright colors to foods.
Pumpkin is also high in an important mineral called potassium, as well as fiber. Please refer to this post to get a primer on why fiber is so important to support optimal health. A 1 cup serving of the soup offers 145 calories, and only 1 carbohydrate serving.