the weather has been stormy here in Seattle. walking the dog yesterday meant risking the storm. the streets were nearly empty, as most folks were bundled up inside, and I was eager to get back home myself, but when the dog stopped and sniffed, I stopped too. Although we were getting soaked standing there, I took a deep breath in and was rewarded with the intoxicating tinge of wood smoke carried on the rain-swept wind. the scent was quintessentially October in Seattle: rain and maple leaves and fire, underscored by the damp piney freshness of the evergreens.
once we got both got home and toweled off, it was time to eat. the chilly expedition had whetted my appetite and frozen my toes. lunch needed to warm my bones! because I didn’t want to venture out again, I turned to my pantry and freezer. rifling through the cupboards I found some home-blended garam masala and a can of coconut milk. the freezer yielded pumpkin from last year’s harvest, and some homemade stock. I was in business. it was time to make soup.
rounded out by a hodgepodge of veggies: a little carrot for sweetness, celery to add some vegetal bitterness and half an onion to give it some funk, the soup came together quickly, and with a hunk of bread, made a perfect autumnal meal. the storm was still underway, but in our little home, we were gratefully cozy, dry and warm.
pumpkin soup with garam masala
I love the addition of the garam masala to this soup—it plays into our American expectations of “pumpkin spice” but turns that flavor on its head a little bit.
1/2 medium onion
1 rib celery
1/2 small zucchini (optional, I added it because I'm still working through my summer harvest!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garam masala(see note)
4 cups pumpkin puree (canned is just fine)
2 tablespoons apple cider
1 1/2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable preferred)
1 12 ounce can coconut milk, well shaken
- chop the onion into a medium dice and set aside. chop the celery, carrot (and zucchini if using) into similar size pieces, about 1/4 inch chunks.
- in a medium stock pot, heat the olive oil on medium low heat until it shimmers.
- add the chopped vegetables to the olive oil and stir to toss them a bit. add a pinch of salt and pepper to the veggies and stir again. let the vegetables sauté over medium low heat until the carrots are slightly tender, about 8 minutes. stir occasionally as the vegetables cook.
- add the garam masala to the chopped veggies and stir to coat them in the spice mixture.
- add the pureed pumpkin and another pinch of salt to the cooked veggies and stir again to combine. let this mixture cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to make sure the pumpkin doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- add the apple cider and stock to the pan and stir to combine. turn the heat up to medium, and let this mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.
- add the coconut milk to the soup pot and stir again. use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely. the finished texture should be thick and creamy. (if you don’t have an immersion blender, let the soup cool a bit after adding in the coconut milk, and then puree the mixture in a regular blender, being careful not to burn yourself as you transfer it.)
- taste the soup—add a bit more garam masala or salt if you like. I serve the soup a little swirl of yogurt or coconut milk and a garnish of garam masala.
note: garam masala is a spice blend that is common in South Asia, Pakistan and India. It often includes what Americans think of as ‘sweet’ spices: cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, and nutmeg in addition to other traditionally savory spices, like cumin and pepper. It’s pungent and warming and a great addition to your spice rack. if you don't have some on hand, you can try making some, or substitute 1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin, ground cardamom, and ground cinnamon, and a pinch of ground cloves.