Although Halloween isn’t very popular here in Italy, pumpkins have always been. In fact, they steal the show in the fall :: autunno.
The most traditional dishes you’ll find in Emilia Romagna where Mr. Italicano and I live are tortelli di zucca :: pumpkin tortelli (ravioli), risotto alla zucca :: pumpkin risotto, and zucca al forno :: baked pumpkin. Ironically, in our area we have never eaten zuppa di zucca :: pumpkin soup other than when I make it at home. I’m surprised it’s not more prolific given the pumpkin-obsession of the area.
During fall this is my go-to busy weeknight recipe or starter dish when entertaining guests. I just love how easy it is to prepare and how comforting it is to eat on a crisp Autumn evening. This is also one of the recipes that I recently made during our 10 food demonstrations in New York City and I have to say that it was quite the hit by all who tried it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!
- For the soup:
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 1 small clove garlic, skin removed, finely chopped
- 2.2 lbs (1 kg) pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 24 oz (700ml) vegetable stock
- *1/4 to ½ pint fresh heavy cream
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- For the topping:
- Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- Toasted sunflower seeds
- *If you prefer a healthier or vegan option, you can leave out the heavy cream.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then cook the onions over medium low heat for 10 minutes or until translucent but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin cubes and vegetable stock to the pot, and simmer until the pumpkin chunks are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork; about 10 minutes.
- Add ¼ to ½ pint of cream, depending on how strong you like the taste. Remove from heat and puree until homogenous with a handheld immersion blender. Alternatively you can mix in a blender, but let the soup cool before blending in the blender otherwise it will explode out the top. (If I’m in a hurry and the soup is still warm, I blend in small batches with my hand on the top so it doesn’t shoot out.) Return the pureed soup back to the pot and heat on low to warm.
- Toast 4 slices of bread and cut into cubes. Dish up the soup into bowls then top with the toasted bread and some toasted sunflower seeds. Buon appetito!
- Tip: This is a great recipe to make in advance and reheat or it can be frozen.