Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Soup

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Soup

Autumn and the holidays may obligate many to turn to seasonal soups but there is no reason to be ordinary with this pumpkin soup spiced with ancho chile.

Soups from roasted fall vegetables like pumpkin, butternut squash or yam can evoke images of home and hearth, of family Thanksgivings and holidays spent together. High heat breaks down the starchy meat of these products that can then be puréed into a smooth and creamy consistency. Fresh gourds can be used but canned pumpkin usually consists of better-tasting varietals farmed specifically for cooking and baking.

To this base is added the smoky flavor of the ancho chile, a dried poblano pepper that carries only a very mild heat. Toasted pepitas are also included in the purée for body and texture with just a touch of dairy to smooth out the finish. Different dried chiles or combinations thereof can be used as well, depending on preference.

Small amounts of cayenne and smoked paprika will enhance the ancho’s flavor, and cinnamon will marry the chiles with the pumpkin for a familiar dessert taste without being sweet. The peppery heat can be moderated with a tiny bit of sugar.

Garnish with the remaining toasted pepitas and serve as a side for a holiday meal, or pair with a toasted cheese sandwich for a light and satisfying lunch.

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Soup

1 ancho chile
15-oz can of pumpkin
½ c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 white onion
2 T butter
½ t ground cinnamon
½ t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne
½ t sugar
½ c half-and-half
black pepper

1 Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan for a few minutes until just beginning to darken.

2 Chop the onion and sauté in butter along with half of the toasted pumpkin seeds until soft, about 10 min.

3 Remove the stem and seeds from the chile and rehydrate in 1 c warm water for 10 min.

4 Finely chop the chile (reserve the soaking water) and add along with the pumpkin and spices.

5 Add 4 c water (including the soaking water) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 min.

6 Purée in batches until smooth. Stir in the dairy and season to taste.


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