Sugar Pumpkin Soup With Ginger and Coconut

Photographs by Liza Schoenfein

My local CSA, Farmigo, gave away free sugar pumpkins a couple of weeks ago. I already adore Farmigo, which is owned by Israeli-turned-Brooklynite Benzi Ronen. But the gift made me feel even more warmly toward the web-based startup, which connects nearby farmers and food artisans with urban neighborhoods like mine.

The pumpkin bestowed on me was a rather large, lopsided specimen, which my kids and I talked about carving into some sort of scowling ghoul — but we never got around to it.

Pumpkins make festive fall decorations, but if you happen to have a sweet or “sugar” pumpkin on your hands, then it’s not just for show. Sugar pumpkins make excellent eating. So when the decorations came down, the soup pot came out.

My neighbor Lauren McGrath, a caterer, food consultant, and our neighborhood Farmigo liaison, offered up a soup recipe to go with the free pumpkin. Hers was a gingery, creamy affair, which sounded heavenly and inspired me to create my own version.

This one substitutes coconut milk for cream, but the biggest difference is that I roast the pumpkin before simmering it, to bring out a complex, caramelized flavor that I love.

Pumpkin Soup With Ginger and Coconut

Look for pumpkins called “sugar” or “sweet” — the regular ones make great jack o’ lanterns but lousy food.

1 sugar pumpkin, about 6 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons dried sage
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 15.5-ounce can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons coconut flakes

1) Preheat oven to 425˚F.

2) Slice off top and bottom of pumpkin. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pith with a large spoon or ice-cream scoop, reserving seeds. Cut pumpkin halves in half (so you have four quarters). Place wedges flesh-side up in a shallow roasting pan, brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Roast until pumpkin is soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

3) Cook onion and ginger in remaining oil in a large pot. Add sage, cayenne and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes. Slice pumpkin meat away from skin and into large chunks and add to pot. Add coconut milk and 2 cups water and simmer 15-20 minutes. Add lemon juice.

4) Meanwhile, place pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and pat dry. Toast seeds for 5 minutes or until golden.

5) Puree soup in a blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and additional lemon juice as needed. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes.

Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at schoenfein@forward.com.

Sugar Pumpkin Soup With Ginger and Coconut

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