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Pumpkin Soup with Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Green-gray pumpkin seeds possess an intriguing squash-like flavor that sets them apart from other seeds and nuts. The seeds, like the meat of a pumpkin, take well to sweet partners, such as maple syrup, and to warm spices such as cayenne pepper that add an undercurrent of heat to this autumnal recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 2 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 7 Tbs. Grade B pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 cans (each 15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, paprika, the 1/4 tsp. cayenne and 1/4 tsp. of the salt.

In a nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 1/2 Tbs. of the butter with 1 Tbs. of the maple syrup and 1 tsp. water. Bring to a boil, swirling the pan to blend. Add the pumpkin seeds, stir to coat and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the spice mixture and toss to coat the pumpkin seeds evenly. Pour onto a piece of parchment paper, spread in a single layer and set aside to cool.

In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter. Add the onion and celery and sauté until softened and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the wine, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until the wine is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and pumpkin, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer gently to blend the flavors, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining 6 Tbs. maple syrup, a pinch of cayenne and the remaining 2 tsp. salt to the pot, and season with black pepper. Stir to mix, cover and simmer to blend the flavors, about 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a bowl. Using a whisk or electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream until it holds soft peaks.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings. Ladle it into warmed bowls, dollop each serving with a spoonful of cream, garnish with the spiced pumpkin seeds and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Soup, by Adam Ried (Oxmoor House, 2008).