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Easy Spiced Pumpkin Soup

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I can’t help myself. The cold weather makes me crave everything pumpkin. (Yes, those now-cliché pumpkin lattes are being targeted to people like me!)

The origin of this soup started with the pumpkin waffles that we enjoyed on a recent Sunday morning. I had opened a big can (almost two pounds) of pumpkin and pumpkin souphad a good amount left over. I thought about freezing it but realized that I could easily whip up a quick batch of soup.

The prep here is so easy. Peeling the carrots and parsnip probably takes the most time, but you don’t even have to do that if the veggies are fresh and you clean them well (which I always do, even when I peel). Or use frozen vegetables, and there’s no chopping or peeling at all. Most pumpkin recipes use cream—mine doesn’t because I’m off dairy, and I don’t think the flavor suffers one bit. I also like my addition of vegetables and pear, which add rich flavor as well as nutrition.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 parsnip
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 6 stalks (stems and leaves) fresh parsley (Tip: It can take quite a while to use up a full bunch of fresh parsley. I wash and air dry it, and then store in a plastic bag the freezer. It maintains that fresh taste and nothing goes to waste.)
  • Dried herbs to taste (see recommendations at below)
  • Flavor options: Black pepperMarjoramCurry powderCuminFennel seed  (I buy whole seeds, grind them in a coffee grinder—which I only use for herbs—and then put back into the jar to store)

Directions

  1. Prepare the vegetables. To minimize dishes, I use a cutting board that has enough space for each ingredient to have its own spot on the board. Dice onion. Cut carrots, celery, parsnip and pears into chunks. Don’t worry about finely slicing anything since this soup is puréed. But the smaller your pieces, the faster this will cook.
  2. Warm up soup pot on medium heat. Once hot, add oil to coat the bottom. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add carrots, celery, parsnip and pear. Pour in broth. Stir in pumpkin. Add bay leaf. Cook until veggies are soft, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on their size. Remove the bay leaf, then add parsley. Purée with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.
  3. Add one or a combination of the “flavor options,” or try your own blend of savory spices!  In this meal, we tried black pepper, marjoram, curry powder, cumin and fennel seed.
  4. To make this an all-in-one light meal (perfect for lunch!), add white or red beans (they have a mild flavor that won’t overpower the soup; if you want the protein without the texture, add the beans before you purée) plus brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa or some other whole grain.

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