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Pumpkin and Chorizo Soup

Hoca

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I figure it’s safe to post a pumpkin recipe now. For a while there (all of October and November) I thought I was going to drown in pumpkin-flavored products. Is it just me, or are they becoming more and more prominent every year? Regardless, pumpkin soup is a hearty, warming way to enjoy the cold months of fall and winter, and I didn’t want to let spring hit me before sharing this recipe.

Like many foods we enjoy today, pumpkins are a product of the New World, and entered Europe in the 15th century. Most foods introduced during that time took a while to gain momentum in Europe – sometimes hundreds of years – but not the pumpkin. Because they resembled gourds and squashes common in the Old World, pumpkins were readily adopted and prized for their robust flavor and easy cultivation. It was quickly made into various soups, and mixed with honey and spices as early as the 17th century – a precursor to pumpkin pie.

For today’s recipe I wanted to keep pumpkin closer to its place of origin – North America – so I decided to focus on a Mexican soup commonly referred to as Sopa de Calabaza, often flavored with cumin and chorizo sausage. I really like the cyclical nature of this dish. Cumin was first cultivated in India and introduced to the Americas by the Portuguese and Spanish. Chorizo is the best of both worlds: Old World sausage flavored with paprika made by New World peppers, and later re-introduced to the Americas. So this dish is the product of the unique culinary marriage of these two continents and cultures.

While pre-roasting a whole pumpkin inevitably lends more depth of flavor, using canned pumpkin puree drastically cuts down on your cooking time and effectively turns this dish into a 30-minute meal.



Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (regular/Mediterranean oregano okay)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 15oz cans pumpkin puree
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 lb fresh ground chorizo sausage
salt and black pepper to taste (about 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper)
fresh cilantro to garnish, chopped


For this recipe I used bison chorizo sausage, newly stocked from US Wellness Meats, which was a little more lean than your typical pork chorizo and had a deep, robust flavor. Any other chorizo will do fine! Along those same lines, Mexican oregano is different from the oregano most commonly found in supermarkets, and has a bit of a lemon taste to it. Again, regular oregano will do fine, but if you have both, I’d use the Mexican variety.

1. Warm the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or dutch oven on medium heat for one minute. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the pumpkin puree and chicken broth, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to marry.

3. As the soup simmers, sauté the chorizo in a separate pan over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes, then set aside.

4. Blend the soup until smooth and return to the skillet (alternatively, use an immersion blender). It should be thick but not overly so (think tomato or split pea soup) – if it’s too thick, add a little water. Stir in almost all of the chorizo, then season to taste. Divide the soup into 4 bowls and scatter with chopped cilantro and the reserved chorizo, then serve.
 
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