While many people feel sad to see summer leaving us behind, I have to admit I love Fall.  In fact, it may be my favourite season.  There is something quiet and comforting about Fall.  There is something so peaceful about a cool, crisp, Fall morning with the leaves rustling along the sidewalks.  There is a lovely poem by Tanya Davis that describes Fall beautifully.  If you haven’t heard Peaceful & Crimson, I urge you to give it a listen.

Another reason I love Fall is the food.  Despite the bounty of summer, I often myself too hot and busy to cook.  Fall, on the other hand, provides the time and cool weather to invest a little time in a delicious meal.  One of my absolute favourite Fall foods is the Hokkaido pumpkin.  I love pumpkin, but often find it involves a lot of work to peel and seed it.  The Hokkaido though is wonderful, because you can leave the peel on and it is so easy to cut.  Plus, it is small enough to not fill your entire fridge.

I’ve used the Hokkaido in many things.  It is fun to stuff it, or sautée it for a fall salad.  It is excellent in curries as well.  Naturally, it also lends itself well to soup.  This is a spicy pumpkin soup that can easily be adapted.  I put quite a lot of spice in this, so if you don’t like spicy food make sure to dial it back a little.  Also, a lot of these ingredients are difficult to find in Germany (corn, cilantro, chipotle peppers), but replacements can easly be made.

Fiery Fall Soup (serves 2-4, depending on size of pumpkin)

  • 1 small to medium sized Hokkaido washed, seeded and cubed (about 4-6 cups)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 liter of good quality broth
  • 1/2 cup of red lentils (optional)*
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo**
  • 1-2 ears of corn
  • crème fraiche or sour cream
  • chopped cilantro (or basil)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Toss the cubed pumpkin in olive oil and a bit of salt.  Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes until it is golden like this.

Meanwhile, in a big pot sautée the onion and garlic in a bit of oil.  Once they are soft, add the lentils if you want and toss them with oil and onions for a bit.  Gradually add the stock.  Next toss in your roasted pumpkin.

On the same baking sheet you used for the pumpkin, put your corn kernels (cut them off the cob) with some more oil and salt.  Roast the corn for about 5 minutes until golden.  Pull it out and set it aside.

In the pot, add your chipotle peppers with some adobo sauce.  Two peppers makes this quite spicy, so only add one or half of one if you don’t like spice.

Let the pot bubble for a while and enjoy some music or a good book.  Once it smells good, pull it off the heat and purée it, either with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender.  Return to the pot and warm it.  Taste it now and add salt, pepper or more spice depending on what you think.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top it with the sour cream, roasted corn and cilantro.  This would be excellent with a nice slice of corn bread too.

* You don’t need the lentils, but they add protein and make it richer.  If you want to serve this as a main meal, I recommend adding them.

** If you can’t find chipotle in adobo, you can add dried chipotle or any other chili really.  Just make sure to taste it periodically to be sure of the flavour and heat.  After cooking for a while, a spicy chili can really change flavour.  The chipotle adds a smoky flavour to the soup, so if you can’t find chipotle, try to add some liquid smoke.  Cubed smoky bacon might also be an interesting addition.