I don’t always love pumpkin soup. So many winter squash soup recipes out there are very sweet and seasoned with either pumpkin pie spices or store-bought curry powder. I do love pumpkin pie, but I prefer to eat it after dinner. I know there’s a reason these flavor combinations are so prevalent – winter squash is absolutely delicious mixed with warm spices and sugar. I just prefer something a little different in my soup bowl.
This spicy, smoky, and creamy soup is exactly what I was hoping for. Brightened with a dollop of cilantro-pepita pesto and a generous squeeze of lime juice, it was really hard to stop after one bowl (so I didn’t). I had some pomegranate arils in the fridge so I added a handful to my bowl along with a sprinkling of crumbled Cotija cheese. The sweet crunch of the pomegranate seeds and the salty cheese were perfect with the soup and pesto. And the more lime juice I squeezed on top, the better it tasted.
I used a pumpkin by the name of Calabaza de Castilla, or Castillo Squash. I think it’s also known as a Fairytale Pumpkin. These are very similar to the pumpkins that I remember eating in Sicily – big and meaty with light-colored skin and dark orange flesh. They have a wonderful flavor similar to butternut squash. I bought my pumpkin at my favorite Mexican Supermarket and was able to purchase a large chunk rather than the entire pumpkin – much easier to deal with!
I roasted it like any other winter squash – cut into big chunks, placed cut-side down in a baking dish, and baked at 375 degrees until fork tender (a little over an hour for this one). After letting it cool, I scooped the flesh from the skin and used it in my soup. I didn’t bother making a puree from the pumpkin because I knew I’d be pureeing the entire soup later. Although I used Castillo Squash for my soup, you may substitute any roasted pumpkin or winter squash. Canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) would be fine, too.
The Cilantro Pepita Pesto is adapted from this recipe at 101 Cookbooks.
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