pumpkin soup

Yesterday was Halloween, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t dress up. The usual excitement over all the fanfare of Halloween just wasn’t there for me this year; with planning the new Vitality Kitchen taking up whatever is left of my creative energy at the end of the day, I couldn’t find it in me to wrangle my Halloween spirit. But as the day began and photographic evidence of the holiday began to pop up everywhere, I kinda wished I had made the effort- but all was not lost; I had a pumpkin in the fridge and damn it I was going to make a delicious soup to wash down my Halloween FOMO (fear of missing out).

Why Pumpkin?
Aside from its obvious festive nature, pumpkin boasts many health benefits. Pumpkin is a foremost source of healthy carbohydrates, magnesium and the antioxidant carotenoids (found in most orange coloured veggies ie. carrots); and unlike summer squash, pumpkin and other winter gourds are hearty and robust and store very well for months at a time.

Pumpkins for a Healthy Pitter Patter
For the ladies out there who wish to hear the pitter patter of little feet, pumpkin has got your number! Pumpkin contains heaps of folate, which help guard against birth defects, especially those in the neural tube.

Two for One
Pumpkin is one of those amazing ingredients that keeps on giving; not only is the flesh and skin of the pumpkin life giving and delicious, but the seeds are too, containing healthy fats, protein and fibre, which have been used traditionally to treat prostate and urinary problems. Now in order to get the best from your pumpkin feast, please buy organic; pumpkin and most other winter squash, absorb heavy metals from the soil and these metals get into our system. So unless you want a side of pesticides with your soup, go organic!

This pumpkin soup came together in minutes and as the aroma of the soup began to fill the air, it started to feel like Halloween. Instead of the traditional cream thickened soups, which are SCARY to me, I thickened this soup with cashews, but any nut will do; and to add a level of texture and depth of flavour, I sauteed some mushrooms and toasted some pumpkin seeds to take this soup to the next level.

A day late and DAMNED delicious, Pumpkin Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms.

1 sm pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 sm yams, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup cashews (sub almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds)
1/2 tsp cumin, salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg, pepper
5 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 lb shiitake mushrooms
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbsp organic butter
1/2 tsp salt

In a large pot, heat the coconut oil on medium heat; add the onions and cook, stirring consistently, for 15 minutes or until onions are fragrant and transparent and the caramelization has begun to occur. Add the pumpkin, yams, cashews, cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper; cook for 7 minutes, stirring consistently. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a dry saute pan on medium high heat, toast the pumpkin seeds; shake the pan throughout to ensure the seeds do not burn; remove from heat and cool. In the same pan, melt the butter and cook the shiitake mushrooms for 7 minutes; sprinkle with parsley, remove from heat and set aside.

Once the pumpkin and yams are tender, remove from heat and with a hand blender buzz until smooth. To serve, garnish with pumpkin seeds and shiitake mushrooms.