In 1971, it was -40 farenheit in Arizona, setting a record low. Over the past week or so, we haven’t come close to that high country freeze but it has been cold. Our beautiful bougainvillea are ugly and brown. Fronds are falling from the jacaranda as if it was an aspen in autumn. I’m even carrying gloves in my handbag. We rarely experience the opportunity for top coats and cocoa.
Cold weather brings the perfect circumstance to warm around the table over a bowl of soup. Of course, in this case, it is also a matter of thawing as we are clearing the freezer of items put away earlier in the year. When planned properly, the notion of pulling something already prepared from the freezer is both a relief and a convenience. I am by no means an expert at freezing foods but I do follow Nancy Hatch’s method of freezing greens and put away roasted beets that can be thawed and used for salads or other dishes later. I also freeze some left over meals so that we can re-experience it again at another time.
This week, despite the fact that we’ve now escaped the cold weather extreme, we made soup. We delved into a large quantity of frozen pumpkin. This had been roasted and scraped from the shell earlier in the year and placed in the freezer without a delibirate plan. Our regular Monday soup menu created the platform to use it up.
The pumpkin is light and given our new year intentions, this soup keeps it that way. In order to bulk it up for the higher caloric needs of my kids, my 13 year old came up with the idea of creating and adding a contrasting green cream. Frankly, without it, this would have been a boring meal.
Pumpkin and Cilantro Cream Soup
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 4 cups frozen pumpkin thawed
- 2 cups broth
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, crushed pepper and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add thawed pumpkin and the broth. Simmer for 20 minutes or until well heated and to your preferred consistency.
In a small food processor or blender, place 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro and the jalapeno. Whirl until it is a creamy green. We put this is a squirt bottle and topped the soup with it but you could also place a dollop right in the soup. Whichever you choose, do not omit this step – the flavor impact is amazing.
What’s your favorite cold weather meal?