Thawing Out

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.

AZ Cold Snap

AZ Cold Snap

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 soup with Jalapeno Cilantro cream

Pumpkin soup with Jalapeno Cilantro cream

Pumpkin and Cilantro Cream Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • Salt
  • 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?

Leave a comment

64 Comments

  1. What a fabulous way to serve soup . . . with a squirt bottle for diners who wish to do some decorating! 😀

    It’s great fun to rummage around the deep freeze to defrost something for a hearty and warming dinner.

    Reply
  2. OOH, when I was poking around in the freezer looking for veggie inspiration I bypassed the winter squash (it’s a mystery squash that volunteered in the garden), but I think this soup would be just the thing for it. Thanks for the recipe idea–clever 13 yr old you’ve got there!

    Reply
  3. Meg

     /  January 24, 2013

    Oh, that looks so good! Pumpkin soup is one of MY favorite soups! I usually make it with curry seasonings and add light coconut milk if I feel the urge, The cilantro cream sounds fantastic!
    I have a huge Amish pie pumpkin in storage that has been trying to get my attention lately. It has been below 0 f. since Sunday here, I think the time has come! (I finally have room in the freezers for the rest of him, too.)

    Reply
    • I actually like the idea of coconut milk and curry. I have some more and perhaps that is what I’ll do.

      Reply
  4. Sally

     /  January 24, 2013

    I am so sorry about your beautiful flowers! I hope the cactus came through and the warmth?
    I, like Meg, use coconut milk and cumin. Yours sounds wonderful and here in Canada with the minus temperatures, we are making soup every day. I think we will try your inspiration tonight.
    Thanks Tammy!

    Reply
  5. Beautiful! And it looks tasty too. I just froze a couple of quarts of pumpkin puree this weekend, so I’ll be back for this recipe. Cilantro cream–what a great inspiration!
    PS: I was thinking of you last night when I was listening to food activist Raj Patel speak in Portland. If you ever get a chance to hear him, I highly recommend it. There’s so much going on in the movement of reclaiming our food system.

    Reply
  6. Sounds delicious! Recently we made butternut squash w/ green chillis, cilantro, and a mixture of lime juice, tahini, and greek yogurt. This reminded me of it. Also, LOVE your idea for freezing roasted beets!

    Reply
  7. MMM! A tasty soup & that spiced cream on top: is the best part , I think! 🙂 These flavours go all so well together! yummm!

    Reply
  8. Love the green sour cream! You have a chef in the making there. 😉

    Reply
    • He’s so clever and it is so much fun! I love those moments and you have many coming your way.

      Reply
  9. This sounds delicious! I often add a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to my lentil soup, which seems bland otherwise. The addition of flavorings right in the sour cream is genius!

    Reply
  10. You always inspire me, Tammy! I’ve never tried pumpkin soup but it sounds so good! I just do potato soup and chili .. the two I know my hubby will eat. 🙂 Thank you!

    Reply
  11. I love a swirl of cream in a bowl of healthy soup – it tastes decadent, but it’s still pretty good for you! Besides, a little fat helps our bodies to absorb all the nutrients in the vegetables. Sounds like good family teamwork to me!

    Reply
    • I like it too. I tend to turn from cream bases these days and so a swirl makes it just right.

      Reply
  12. Hard to imagine a cold snap in AZ, seeing as it was well over 100 degrees when we were there summer before last. I love that your son came up with the green cream idea. The soup is so pretty after decoration!

    Reply
  13. Beautiful! I love the idea of the pumpkin/cilantro combo. Usually as soon as it gets cold, I want to make a huge pot of chili or spaghetti sauce! There’s something comforting about a big pot of goodness simmering on the stove.

    Reply
    • Isn’t there? It’s pouring rain today (and we need it) and I feel like simmering something delicious!

      Reply
  14. The cilantro cream sounds tasty! I often freeze soups for the odd cold day we have in summer 🙂

    Reply
  15. Jalapeño and cilantro cream cheese! Now that would add flavor! One of my favorite things to pull from the freezer for a cold day is lasagna.Pyrex makes lasagna pans with lids which is perfect for doing this.

    Reply
    • You know, I love lasagna and never ever make it. I don’t know why. That would be a fun thing to pull from the freezer.

      Reply
  16. Winter is our soup season. After a snowy day I think chicken and dumplings might be in order!

    Reply
  17. It’s hard to imagine that it was ever 40 below F in Arizona. I had no idea.
    Up here in WI we are gearing up for an ice storm. May need to miss church tomorrow morning.

    Reply
  18. I have never eaten pumpkin soup before and I have some packed pumpkins in my fridge. What do you think abou adding some fresh coriander to the recipe? Considering I dont have green cream, some fresh greens might be a good alternative.

    Reply
    • I believe that coriander and cilantro are the same thing – just different names in diffferent countries.

      Reply
  19. I love the topping for the soup and the fact that your 13 year old came up with the idea!

    Reply
  20. November has finally brought about some much cooler weather here in North Dakota, and with that comes a lot of really good cold-weather comfort foods, like stuffed pork chops, baked ziti, and my favorite–broccoli cheddar soup.

    Reply
  21. I can’t even imagine the cool weather in Arizona. I’ve only ever been there when it’s in the 100s.

    Reply
  22. I really feel for you with that cold weather – we don’t have to experience anything like that in Sydney. What a gorgeous meal and so warming for your cold extremes xx

    Reply
  23. That cream looks amazing! Must try it, Tammy!
    Top coats and cocoa: I must remember to see them as opportunities, not incumbraces…

    Reply
  24. Raining here for us this weekend, warm and raining…still good for soup!

    Reply
  25. I’ve sworn off pumpkin foods (that aren’t pie) since a bad summer-long experience with pumpkin ice cream at Boy Scout camp! No matter, love your stuff … so much so, that you are getting The Sunshine Award! Here’s the post linking to your blog: http://mowryjournal.com/2013/01/28/the-sunshine-award/.

    Reply
    • That’s funny. I bet it’s a great story and I think you should write it down. Thank you for the award! Appreciate it.

      Reply
  26. It’s definitely soup– and hearty, bean/lentil based ones. Black bean and sweet potato might top the list, but, oh, the options are endless. The pumpkin soup I made recently was an ultra basic pumpkin (onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme sage, pumpkin) could have used a little kick… Last year’s frozen pumpkin ended up in pumpkin enchiladas, also warm and filling, if you have more floating around.

    Our weather last week was around 0 F for too many days, and I have some serious envy of winter weather where forgetting gloves doesn’t put you in danger of frostbite. I think we’re past it…

    Reply
    • Love the idea of a pumpkin enchilada. I still have two small fresh ones here that will either find their way to the freezer or to something warm and filling.

      Reply
  27. My favorite in winter? Ah, Ramen! 🙂

    Reply
  28. Mmmmmmm I love pumpkin soup!! Last week I made a big pot of pumpkin and carrot soup which was delicious. I just wish I had more space in my freezer, but I only have a tiny ice department inside of my fridge that’s just sufficient to store some frozen fish and a few vegetables, but not big enough to keep several containers with soup or other things. 😦

    Reply
  29. Soups and stews are definitely favorites in winter for me! Something hot and warming and comfortable. 🙂

    Reply
  30. Looks like a great meal. Everytime it gets cold in our house, my wife makes chilli. When it snows, then its chili and soup till we can’t stand it no more.

    Tim

    Reply
  31. Lisa H

     /  February 17, 2013

    Isn’t soup so comforting this time of year? I too love to delve into the freezer. I found some beets, cabbage and a super strong veggie broth that I had made from the tops and skins of veggies. It made one of the the best borscht soups. The kids didn’t even try it, but hubby and I finished it off quickly.

    Reply
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