Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is one of my all-time favorite Fall dishes. The recipe was inspired by an African vegetable side dish I read a few years back in one of the many food magazines we subscribe to. I made a few tweaks, transformed it into a soup, and have been making it every Fall since. It is a crowd pleaser that will fill your house with the smell of nutmeg and cloves – reminiscent of pumpkin pie and holiday cheer. The end result is a seemingly complex soup that is, yet, so simple and comforting.
In the picture here, I have served the soup in a small, ceramic bowl, but to add a bit of flare, try serving in an actual carved out carnival pumpkin. Either way, the soup can be made ahead of time and reheated just before serving. So if you haven’t done your Thanksgiving shopping yet, add this to the list and make it tonight. Then, wow your in-laws tomorrow with this small treat to kick-start a fantastic turkey dinner.
For Carnival Pumpkin bowls:
4 small baking pumpkins for serving the soup in
1 Tablespoon of sugar
2 pounds of butternut squash
1 small onion quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 fresh hot red chile chopped (thai chile)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon of cardamom
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme finely chopped
2 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 inches of salt cured pork
4 sage leaves
Salt & Pepper
1. To prepare the soup, start by roasting the vegetables. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine all soup ingredients up through the fresh thyme and mix well to coat. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Increase oven temp to 450 degrees and uncover, salt, and roast 15 minutes. Stir and roast an additional 10-15 minutes until the squash is glazed.
2. Prepare the bowls by setting the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a circle around stem to create a lid that will be the opening of your bowl. Remove lid and clean pumpkin by removing seeds and fibers (Be careful not to thin the pumpkin out too much). Sprinkle inside of pumpkins with salt and sugar. Roast for approximately 30 minutes until tender. If you plan to use lids, roast those as well alongside the pumpkins.
3. While bowls are baking, transfer roasted soup ingredients to a large sauce pan. Add water and stock and simmer 15 minutes until squash is tender.
4. Working in batches, blend soup in a blender until smooth and return to sauce pan (or puree in pan with immersion blender) and allow to simmer at a low temp while you complete step 5 and prepare to serve.
5. Fry pork on both sides until browned. Chop pork into small bits to top the soup. Add sage to rendered pork fat to crisp each piece. Chop into small bits to top the soup.
6. Salt and pepper soup to taste. If too thick, adjust by adding stock or if too thin, coconut milk or further reducing. Serve by putting equal amounts of soup into baked pumpkins. Top each with bits of fried pork and crisp chopped sage. Roasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds also make a nice topping.