Pumpkin Spice, sans Coffee
With its dark mornings, early evenings and nip in the air, fall is officially here. We have finally felt the summer humidity lift off our shoulders, and we can wait until next summer for the return of its stifling heat. We are very quickly reminded that pumpkin season is here and back in full force each time we step into a coffee shop; wafts of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice fill the air, creating that very familiar pumpkin aroma that we associate with October and November. Pumpkin flavors are everywhere — M&Ms and even Pringles (!) have joined in on the pumpkin craze.
Pumpkins, however, are not just for coffee and carving. Eaten in a savory dish, pumpkins can provide a great deal of vitamins and nutrients. Just one cup of pumpkin provides 200 percent of our daily recommendation of Vitamin A, as well as three grams of fiber. Pumpkins are also an incredible source for Vitamin C, cancer-fighting free radicals and cup-for-cup, pumpkins have more potassium than bananas (so finish off your workouts with pumpkins instead!). In addition, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of HDL Cholesterol (the good kind!).
Oftentimes, when we think of pumpkins and cinnamon, our brains immediately resort to sweets — pumpkin pie, pumpkin spiced lattes, donuts, cinnamon scented baked goods … but are there other ways to enjoy these flavors without loading them with sugar?
Pumpkin soup, especially used with a whole pumpkin and not canned pumpkin, is a great way to incorporate all of these health benefits into our diets, and the seasonings can be adjusted to however you like your soups: spicy, sweet, thick or creamy. The key is sautéing your veggies (garlic and onion), adding cubed pumpkin and spices, covering with broth and simmering. Once the pumpkin is soft and the flavors meld together, puree in a blender or food processor, finish with cream and dinner is served.
Here is a pumpkin soup recipe that is simple to make, but sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
(adapted from Simply Recipes)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 6 cups chopped roasted pumpkin, or 3 (15oz) cans of 100 percent pumpkin
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup heavy cream (or milk for less fat)
- Add olive oil to a 4-quart saucepan and cook over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, cook until soft, then add spices and cook for another minute.
- Add pumpkin and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Let simmer about 20 minutes.
- Blend soup in a food processor or blender (do this in small batches). Blend until smooth, then return soup to saucepan.
- With the soup on low heat, add in the maple syrup and slowly add in the milk while stirring. Adjust seasonings to your taste and enjoy.