Pumpkin Soups Under Pressure

November 3, 2013
by Jack McNulty
Pumpkin Soups Under Pressure

It doesn’t take very much time these days to search for and find soup recipes made in a pressure cooker. In fact, you can even search within this blog from just a few months ago and locate my marvelous Caramelized Carrot and Ginger Soup, adapted from “The Modernist Cuisine.”

So why is there a sudden spike in popularity amongst soup enthusiasts in using pressure cookers? Well, I think the answer is simple; pressure cookers cook soups quickly and create unmatched flavors. That’s the bottom line…and that’s all that should matter.

My two newest soups this fall are based on a couple of regulars: Curried Pumpkin and Orange and Creamy Pumpkin and Chestnut.


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Both soups follow the same basic procedures. Start by slowly sweating an onion in some olive oil until it is very soft, then add the spices, pumpkin, other flavor enhancers, a small amount of liquid and the baking soda – a key element in producing a slightly caramelized flavor in the pumpkin. Next, seal the pressure cooker and heat until the first pressure bar is reached, then reduce the temperature on the stove top to maintain that pressure for 24 minutes. Finally, quickly release the pressure by placing the entire pot under cold running water…the soup is then pureed with additional liquid using an immersion blender and strained into a clean pot to obtain a luxurious velvety texture.

Simple and delicious…and completely safe!

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Curried Pumpkin and Orange Soup
makes enough for about 10 servings

600 gr. butternut squash
1 medium sized onion
25 gr. olive oil
40 gr. fino sherry (you can substitute white wine)
2 tsp. mild curry powder (see below)
2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
100 gr. carrot juice
1 tsp. sea salt
2,5 gr. baking soda
300 gr. carrot juice
2 dl. freshly squeezed orange juice

Prepare the butternut squash by peeling it completely and removing all seeds (if you are using the bottom part of the pumpkin). Cut the pumpkin into approximately 4-cm chunks. Prepare the onion by peeling it and slicing into relatively thin pieces. Add the olive oil to the base of your pressure cooker (at least 3 liters in size) and heat over medium heat. Add the onion slices and sweat for about 8-10 minutes, or until the onions completely soften.  Once the onions are ready, add the spices, sherry wine, 100 gr. carrot juice, sea salt and the prepared pumpkin chunks. Toss this around for a minute or two, then add the baking soda and mix well. Seal the pressure cooker and turn the heat up to high. As soon as the pressure indicator hits the first bar, reduce the temperature to maintain the pressure (for my induction stove top, I begin on the highest number which is nine, then reduce the heat to four…you may need to play with the temperature settings and reaction time on your stove top). Set the timer for 22 minutes and relax until the soup is finished cooking. Use the quick pressure release method by running cold water over the pressure cooker until the pressure is completely released. Open the lid…and make sure to keep it faced away from you – the escaping steam is very hot and it could burn you. Now, puree the soup with an immersion blender while adding the remaining carrot juice and the orange juice. Make sure the soup is very smooth, then strain into a clean pot. Check the seasoning…keeping in mind the orange flavor will intensify the longer the soup is stored. Eat right away or cool completely and refrigerate. Serve with a garnish of pumpkin oil or a swirl of yogurt (I like using soy yogurt)

Variation: You can leave out the oil altogether if you are watching your fat intake. Just use water to sweat the onion very well, making sure you take care in preventing the onions from  burning or browning.

 

Creamy Pumpkin and Chestnut Soup
makes enough for about 10 servings

600 gr. butternut squash
1 medium sized onion
25 gr. olive oil
2 whole garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp. chili flakes
1 star anise
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
30 gr. amontillado sherry
1 dl. carrot juice
2,5 gr. baking soda
5-7 dl. pumpkin broth (or water)

Prepare the butternut squash by peeling it completely and removing all seeds (if you are using the bottom part of the pumpkin). Cut the pumpkin into approximately 4-cm chunks. Prepare the onion by peeling it and slicing into relatively thin pieces. Add the olive oil to the base of your pressure cooker (at least 3 liters in size) and heat over medium heat. Add the onion slices and the slightly crushed peeled cloves of garlic. Sweat both for about 8-10 minutes, or until the onions completely soften.  Tie together the cinnamon stick with the two sprigs of rosemary. Add this bundle along with the chili flakes and the star anise to the onions. Add the turmeric powder next, mix everything together, then add the balsamic vinegar, amontillado sherry and the 1 dl. of carrot juice. Mix well, turn up the heat to high and add the baking soda. Seal the pressure cooker and turn the heat up to high. As soon as the pressure indicator hits the first bar, reduce the temperature to maintain the pressure (for my induction stove top, I begin on the highest number which is nine, then reduce the heat to four…you may need to play with the temperature settings and reaction time on your stove top). Set the timer for 22 minutes and relax until the soup is finished cooking. Use the quick pressure release method by running cold water over the pressure cooker until the pressure is completely released. Open the lid…making sure to keep it faced away from you – the escaping steam is very hot and it could burn you. Go ahead and remove the rosemary/cinnamon bundle and fish out the star anise (it usually floats to the top). Now, puree the soup with an immersion blender while adding enough pumpkin broth to create the consistency you are after. Make sure the soup is very smooth, then strain into a clean pot. Check the seasoning…keeping in mind spiciness of the soup will intensify the longer the soup is stored. Eat right away or cool completely and refrigerate.

A couple of notes… watch out for the chili flakes – the soup will continue to get spicy the longer it is refrigerated.  And don’t bother using fresh chestnuts, unless you like to score, roast and peel them – whole frozen, uncooked chestnuts are simple to find and work perfectly well for this soup.

 
 



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