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June 25, 2019

"Savory Roasted Pumpkin Soup" by Theresa L Begin

It is that wonderful time of year in which pumpkins are everywhere.  I am in love with Autumn/Fall! (this is no secret to my regular readers)  Although, I do not participate in all things Halloween, I do so enjoy the Harvest time.
 So many wonderful and different varieties of vegetables are available (as long as you are not intimidated by them).
After I became "differently-abled" I volunteered at our local food pantry and soup kitchen for about 6 or 7 years, every time the loads would come in from the stores and local farms, with a variety of beautiful squash, most everyone looked at me and said, "Theresa, we have more 'gourds' for you."  They thought them only good for rustic, harvest-themed table decoration and never did add them to our food give away.  Very seriously, the public's loss was my gain. 
One time, I even offered to print up recipes to go with the ingredient, but I was overruled as it being "too difficult" of a fruit/vegetable for most people to work with. So, now, finally, I have the voice, and platform, here to tell the Public, that the opposite is true! They are very easy to work with!
With the morning and evenings, finally beginning to get crisper, my mind automatically begins to turn to memories of wonderful, comforting soups.  My mother and grandmother were famous for their hearty chicken and beef stews, I, on the other hand, have been more known for my various rustic vegetable or squash "cream-style" soups.  My Savory Roasted Pumpkin Soups is one of my personal favorites and most requested recipe.
This is not your standard Pumpkin Soup recipe, with only a few ingredients, highlighted by some spice you would normally associate with pie, it is wonderful and very savory and quite hearty.  These pumpkins are also packed with nutrition.  According to Nutriondata.self.com: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
Mind you, you aren't using a jack-o-lantern pumpkin here, you need to buy, specifically, a baking pumpkin or maybe your store calls it a pie pumpkin.  I get mine from our Trader Joe's, just because they have a large variety, you can buy yours wherever you can find them. Local farms carry a great variety. The average cost for these beauties is between $1.99-2.99.  Be sure and grab some before they are gone again until next year!
You may notice they are just a tinge darker than the "regular" pumpkins that you might buy for decoration. Still, they are quite sweet and unassuming.
The task of cooking them, that people are SO concerned by couldn't be easier truly if you tried.
Simply cut in half remove seeds and stringy membrane with a metal ice cream scoop, cut in quarters or eighths, depending on the size, brush the flesh side lightly with some olive oil, place flesh side down on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
When you can easily pierce through the pumpkin skin with a dinner fork they are done! That's it! Not so complicated, right? Another wonderful feature to these little gems;  no peeling necessary. As you can see, when left for 5-10 minutes after roasting the skin simply pulls off leaving you with all that scrumptious pumpkin meaty goodness. A couple turns in a bowl with your wish and you have made your very own organic pumpkin puree. Each 1-1/2 to 2-2/2 lb pumpkin yields about 2-1/2 cups of this beautiful puree. you are going to use it all in this soup.
This is your basic mirepoix with a few additions and how you begin to make your soup.
The Ingredients:
1-1/2 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 cup chopped celery
1-1/2 cup chopped carrots
1-1/2 cup chopped potatoes
1-1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
Saute the above ingredients in a saucepan with the lid on for about 15-20 minutes, be sure not to let then brown.
Add to vegetables
1 can of Chicken Broth (I'm partial to Swanson's, but you can use your favorite, here) Replace lid and increase heat to medium-high and let cook down for another 30-40 minutes.
This is a perfect time to be roasting your pumpkin. Once you have your fresh pumpkin puree, add it to your vegetable mixture and add 1 more can of chicken broth.
Let the pumpkin cook in with the vegetables for about 20-30 minutes on medium low. Now you're ready to blend! 
I use a blender but you could easily use an emulsifier here, as well. Your soup will be approximately 2-3 blenders 2/3 full of soup. While blending, add in divided portions, 2/3 cup of Whole Milk and 2/3 cup finely shredded Colby jack cheese (or half cheddar, half jack cheese)
You want to do this at this step because your mixture will be hot and will easily melt your cheese and combine well with your other ingredients. Return your blended mixture to a soup pot and keep on a very low setting, be careful here and when reheating. You don't want to let your soup boil or you may get some separation of your milk and then it just loses its wow.
I love to toast my pumpkin seeds well and toss a few on top for texture and taste, along with a few crumbles of bacon, and chopped green onions. You can top it any way you like! I've also simply tossed some yummy garlic salad croutons on top with the leftovers, equally yummy!
(As far as the seasoning for this soup, I always say season to your taste. But, as a guideline, I'm adding my seasonings, here for you to try or play with)
While cooking your vegetables, add 1/2 tsp of pepper, 1 tsp each minced, dried chopped onion/garlic, 1/2 tsp of sugar, add any desired additional salt, 1 tsp of Mrs.Dash original seasoning.  It's a wonderful and flavorful blend.
I hope you enjoy my recipe as much as we do! I pray that you are dry and warm and able to enjoy and share this soup with your friends and family too.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by and cook with me today!
Many Blessings,
Theresa

This recipe originally appeared in the NOVEMBER 2018 issue of the RUBY Magazine (see below)

Theresa Begin lives in Northern California, where she was born and raised. She is a Christian who loves her family and says, “I have been blessed with the world’s best parents!” She has three sisters and one brother, as well as 16 beautiful nieces and nephews who “mean the world to me!” She is “differently-abled,” and chooses not to allow her limitations to define her life. She loves to write and share her various projects on her blog, “Shoestring Elegance,” which came about as she discovered that living on a tight budget did not mean compromising on style. “ Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NLT

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