SKINNY PUMPKIN SOUP

Happy October! Although it involves my complete resignation to the fact that we're 3/4 of the way through the year, I always greet October with a measure of excitement. Many years ago my husband and I started the tradition of celebrating the arrival of October with a bowl of homemade pumpkin soup on October 1. This year, I have embraced my self-proclaimed title of "foodie" with a bit too much zeal. On a subconcious level I must have been trying to find a very personal way to pay homage to the October "squash of the month". No need for a Halloween costume this year. I already look like a pumpkin.

Of course I've decided to pick October as the month to start a healthier eating program, since there's little temptation in the months ahead (insert canned laughter here). My first assignment ~ transform my traditional "October Celebration Pumpkin Soup" recipe into a "Skinny Pumpkin Soup" recipe without sacrificing flavor, richness, and bowl-lickability!

I won't bore you with too many of the details. I started with the obvious: reduce the amount of butter. I wanted to boost sweetness and body without the use of heavy cream and added sugar. To accomplish this, I used sweet potatoes. Perfect! The natural sugars in the sweet potatoes allowed me to reduce the quantity of honey. I replaced the heavy cream with evaporated milk. These simple changes yielded a rich and creamy soup with good complexity and balance. Unlike a lot of pumpkin soups, this one doesn't taste like liquid pumpkin pie (Ewww!)

If you speak "Weight-Watcher-ease", you can have a large bowl (1.5 cups) of this soup for ONLY 4 POINTS! Now, that's cause to celebrate! Enjoy!


Skinny Pumpkin Soup
Serves 8

1 Tablespoon butter
1 pound sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise, skinny ends trimmed off
2 shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed with the blunt end of a knife
48 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
3 Tablespoons honey
½ cup evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350.

On a baking sheet, arrange halved sweet potatoes. Spray both sides with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until fork tender. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skins. Set aside.

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until shallots are translucent and garlic pieces begin to brown. Add sweet potatoes and combine with garlic/shallot mixture, breaking up sweet potato as you stir.

Add stock, then whisk to combine. Whisk in pumpkin, salt and spices and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium- low for 15 minutes, uncovered, whisking periodically to prevent burning on the bottom. Reduce heat to low. Using a stick blender (or transferring soup to a blender or food processor), process until smooth.

Stir in evaporated milk and honey and cook at a low simmer for five more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a dollop of creme fraiche or lowfat sour cream and enjoy.

Serve with a crusty multi-grain bread.

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