Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Soup With Cilantro For Kalyn's Last Weekend Herb Blogging

Congratulations, Kalyn!

Regional French cooking classes, taught by chef Alex Begovic, have begun at Eureka's North Coast Co-op's Community Kitchen after a hiatus over the summer and I'm happy to be attending them again. One of the things I know I will always learn from Alex's classes is how to simplify and get the most out of the fewest ingredients.
The first recipe Alex made for us last week was a velvety smooth Pumpkin Soup with Cilantro. Now Cilantro just happens to be my friend and fellow blogger Kalyn's all-time favorite herb. So how could I not feature cilantro as Kalyn wraps up 3 years of being at the helm of her wildly popular blogging event, Weekend Herb Blogging? No way could I not.
The pumpkin soup, which I made following Alex's recipe to the letter, is surprisingly simple, using just three main ingredients - pumpkin (or squash), onions, and cilantro - enhanced by a little sherry, a little dry white wine, salt, pepper. Just before serving, the freshly chopped cilantro is added, which kicks the finished soup into the culinary stratosphere. And while I opted to make a cilantro oil to garnish my soup, I highly recommend using Alex's method of coarsely chopping the cilantro, stems and all, and stirring it into the hot soup just before plating. The pungent, fresh taste of the cilantro compliments the smooth, rich soup and is a treat that should not be missed.
I chose two smallish red kabocha squash called Sunshine at the farmers market last weekend then added one that I grew in my garden this summer, a French heirloom (in photo on the left) called Cinderella. As I learned from Chef Alex, they are easily peeled by cutting off both the stem and blossom ends, creating flat surfaces (rendering them looking much like a wheel of cheese) that can easily be grasped then peeled using a sharp vegetable peeler. Much, much easier and safer than trying to shave them with a knife.

Alex's Pumpkin Soup with Cilantro

12 cups peeled, seeded fresh pumpkin, cut into large pieces
3 medium onions, medium dice
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Enough cold water to barely cover
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped, stems and all
Place a large soup pot over high heat and allow to get hot. Add the oil to the pot then the onions and 1/3 of the salt. Stir and allow to cook until soft and translucent. Lower the heat to prevent burning if necessary.
Add the sherry and white wine and let reduce for a few minutes.
Add the pumpkin, another 1/3 of the salt, some grindings of black pepper, and enough water to barely cover the pumpkin. Bring to a boil and let cook until the pumpkin is just tender but not mushy.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender.
Add the rest of the salt if needed, a few more grindings of black pepper, and the chopped cilantro.
Serve immediately.
Cook's Notes:
Use your immersion on #6 speed and puree until the soup is completely smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a food processor, again, buzzing until the soup is completely smooth.
The cilantro should not be finely chopped as if you are making a pesto. Rather, chop it until the leaves and stems are small but still recognizable.
Be sure to visit Kalyn's blog this Sunday for what I'm sure will be the biggest Weekend Herb Blogging yet. And if you want to join in and be a part of history, you've got until 3:00 PM Utah time this Sunday so click here to see how to do it. Send your entries to kalynskitchen (at) comcast (dot) net.
And last but certainly not least, a very important announcement:
Haalo, of Cook (almost) Anything (at least) Once, is taking over the helm of Weekend Herb Blogging. Visit Haalo's post here to read about how you can join in beginning the week of November 3rd. Best of luck to you Haalo, you've got some big shoes to fill but I know you can do it.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. Of course you knew I would love this recipe! What a wonderful-sounding soup. Thanks also for the all the nice thoughts about WHB. I know Haalo will be great.

    Counting the days (literally) until I can get on that Delta flight and come to visit!

  2. Love cilantro too and the soup looks fab! Congrats to Kalyn who has certainly been a trooper! Congrats!

  3. Kalyn, I SO knew you would love this recipe that I had a silly smile on my face the entire time I was writing it.

    Thanks so much, Catherine. I forgot to mention that it's totally vegan.

  4. Now I'm hungry for this soup!
    Beautiful post Christine!

  5. Thank you Simona and thank you Tanna!

  6. LOVE this recipe! Love it! I'd love to take a class like this.


  7. My most favorite soup in the world. You are so correct~just a few simple ingredients to make this wonderful dish.

  8. I've often thought of doing a series of small classes in my kitchen. Oh the fun we would have!

    I'm about to make it again, Jann. This time with the fresh chopped cilantro that I was lucky enough to score at the farmers market today.


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