I get homesick sometimes, and making (and eating) Portuguese food makes me feel a little closer to home. I’m no master chef, but my desire to eat Portuguese food regularly means I’ve gotten pretty good at certain recipes. So I stole some pumpkins from my friend’s front porch (as one does) and got to work in the kitchen. Here’s the first of the two culinary delights I made with the pumpkins.
After researching (asking my mom and Google) various recipes, I came up with what I believe is a “standard” version of this Portuguese soup. Let me know what you think! It’s one of those comforting soups that you turn to as the weather starts getting colder. As a bonus, I teach you how to make oven-roasted pumpkin seeds, which you can use to decorate your soup – or to store as a yummy snack. Parenting tip: this soup is all natural and a little sweet, so kids will enjoy the taste and get lots of nutrients.
Sopa de Abóbora e Cenoura / Pumpkin and Carrot Soup
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white/yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium carrots
1 kg / 2.2 lbs of pumpkin
1/2 cup milk (lactose-free milk works too!)
Sea salt & freshly-ground pepper, to taste
Portuguese wine, for drinking as you cook
Preparation – the boring stuff:
1. Cut up the pumpkin. Save the meaty part and the seeds and separate them. Throw out the stringy part and the outside skin.
2. Wash the seeds with water, drain and put them to one side.
3. Cut up the meaty part of the pumpkin into 3 cm (1 1/5″) cubes and set them aside.
4. Peel and dice the carrots into 1-2 cm (1/2 – 3/4″) pieces and set them aside.
5. Finely chop the onion (I won’t judge you for crying) and garlic.
6. Open up that wine bottle and pour yourself a glass because you’ve just finished the hard part and the fun, chef-y part is about to start!
Directions – the fun stuff:
1. Set your stove to a medium heat. Drizzle enough olive oil to nearly cover the bottom of a deep pot and place on the stove.
2. Add the chopped onion and garlic and let them refogar (let the onions get golden yellow without burning), stirring regularly. Pre-heat your oven to 175 C / 350 F for roasting the seeds.
3. Add 1.5 cups of water to the onion and garlic. After a minute, add the carrots and pumpkin. Stir occasionally. Have some more wine.
4. Boil some water with a couple of teaspoons of salt in a small pot and add the seeds. After 7 or 8 minutes, drain the water and lay out the seeds on a baking sheet, spreading them out as much as possible. Put in the oven for about 25 minutes, until they’re crunchy.
5. Not forgetting to stir the contents of the pot once in a while, will notice the pumpkin and carrots starting to get softer. Once you can easily crush the pumpkin cubes with a wooden spoon, lower the heat. Either take an immersion blender and blend directly in the pot, or move the contents to an alternative recipient to blend.
6. Once the soup becomes creamy (put the soup back into the pot if you’ve removed it), add salt and pepper to taste (the soup is sweet so don’t be shy with these) and a generous amount of nutmeg, also to taste. On a medium heat again, add the milk, stirring constantly, until it nearly boils, and then turn off the heat.
7. Remove the cilantro/coriander stalks and chop the leaves finely. For reference, I use about 25 leaves. Stir them in and serve hot. Keep leftover wine for dinner.
If you want to really wow your guests at dinner party with tasty food and excellent presentation, serve it on one of Bordallo Pinheiro’s ceramic pumpkin tureens – they’re perfect for keeping the soup warm and double up as a Fall table center-piece. I’m obsessed with their serving plates and tureens.