Roasted Garlic Pumpkin and Cheese Soup

Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Cheese Soup

After an enjoyable visit to our local cider mill in Endicott, N.Y. last week, I came home with beautiful, white pumpkins. I had only really seen them in pictures as decoration, but not really heard of anyone cooking with them. To much of my surprise, I discovered that the white variety are indeed used for cooking more so outside of the U.S. and that’s only because the traditional orange pumpkins are all shipped to us here to enjoy for our fall season and especially on Halloween. As soon as I saw the white pumpkins, I had visions of a warm, cheesy soup. I just couldn’t wait to bring them home and start roasting them. The results were a creamy, rich and light soup with subtle flavors of squash. The fresh roasted corn paired well, still crispy with smoky flavors of the roasted poblanos and red bell pepper. The great thing about this soup, you can add different flavors depending on what you garnish the soup with. Can you tell I really enjoyed it?

Yields 8 servings  

Ingredients:

White lumina pumpkin, about 5 pounds (it will cook down to about 3 pounds when roasted)
2 whole bulbs garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 cups milk (I added 1%)
2 cups half and half (I added light)
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules or chicken base for soups
*make sure you read the measurements on chicken bouillon or chicken base for correct measurements
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt to taste
Dash of your favorite hot sauce or to taste
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups (shredded) of a good melting cheese, such as Chihuahua, jack, asadero or mozzarella

Tip: If you find carving squash a difficult task, remove the stem and roast for just 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven. This will soften it slightly and make it a little easier to cut down for the long roasting time. This soup recipe freezes well.

You Will Also Need:
1 large poblano pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
2 jalapeño peppers, roasted, deseeded and diced, optional
2 cups roasted corn off the cob
Crumbled bacon or crispy Spanish chorizo, chopped, optional

Tip: For soups that may call for heavy cream, I like to substitute with light half and half. It adds creaminess without making it too heavy. And this way I can enjoy a second bowl!

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice the pumpkin in half, remove all the seeds and pulp. Slice the tops off from the garlic bulbs, wrap them in in foil paper and transfer to baking sheet. Slice the pumpkin into smaller chunks, season with white pepper, salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Turn skin side up, cover baking sheet with foil paper and roast for 1 hour or until tender. rotate pan halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool before removing the rind off of all the pumpkin.

2. When pumpkin is ready, transfer half of the pumpkin to the blender with the 2 cups of milk. Blend on high until smooth and transfer to large pot. Add the remaining pumpkin, half and half, chicken bouillon, cornstarch, white pepper, thyme, nutmeg and salt to taste. Again, blend on high until smooth and add to pot. Heat to medium just until it looks like it going to boil.

3. Reduce heat, add hot sauce (to taste), 2 cups broth and half of the cheese. Once cheese has melted, I like to taste for spices and adjust to taste. When ready to serve, add some cheese to the bottom of bowl, ladle hot soup on top. Garnish with roasted corn, peppers and crumbled bacon or Spanish chorizo. Serve with crostini bread slices or croutons. 

I wish I could have shown you my husband’s bowl of soup loaded with crumbled bacon. He could not resist, it was gone soo fast!

Our local cider mill was loaded with white lumina pumpkins, as well as the traditional orange pumpkins, apples and fresh-pressed cider.

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