Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

This is an easy, yet elegant soup to make for company.  The soup itself is subtle to the point of being a little dull, but it is a great base for the garnish, the pumpkin seed pesto.

For the Soup

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3lb pumpkin, canned
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz butter
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5-Spice Powder

    Begin by lightly sauteing minced garlic in olive oil. You don't want it to brown but you do want to get the harshness out of it.

Lightly saute garlic in olive oil.  The purpose is to remove the harshness, but not to brown it.  Be ready, because as small as minced garlic is, it will take no time at all to brown.  As the aroma begins to rise and the garlic is about to brown, add the next three ingredients, the pumpkin, the water, and the half & half.  Whisk them until smooth and bring to a simmer, whisking often.

Whisk in pumpkin, water, and half & half. The dark flecks are just one reason why you want to pay attention and not let the garlic brown!

Whisk in the maple syrup, the butter, and the Chinese 5-spice powder.  Simmer 10 minutes more, whisking often.  Season with salt and pepper.  Do not be shy with the seasoning because 3 lbs of pumpkin, 6 cups of water, and 1 1/2 cups of half & half will need a fair amount of salt and pepper.

This part can be made in advance by a day or two.

For the Pumpkin Seed Pesto

  • 2 oz olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (they will be green)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 scallions chopped
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

    Raw pumpkin seeds, also sold as pepitas, are a great ingredient for many dishes. Here they will be toasted with garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper and become the base for a pesto garnish.

Heat half the olive oil in a skillet until hot but not smoking.  Cook the pumpkin seeds in the oil and season well with salt and pepper.  Saute until they begin to pop. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or so.

Some of the pumpkin seeds will brown, but pull before they all do and let cool a little.

Pulse the mixture to a paste and then whisk in the lemon juice.

Pulse mixture in a food processor with water, cilantro, scallions, and remaining olive oil.  When it becomes a thick paste, transfer to a bowl, whisk in the lemon juice, and correct the seasoning.

Serve the soup with a dollop of the pesto in the center as a garnish.


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