My friend B. is from Texas, but it’s often hard for me to picture. She’s a liberal Methodist minister, and most Texans I’ve ever met are conservative Southern Baptists. They are not people who refer to God as “she.”
But I recently got a strong reminder of B.’s roots when she gave G. and I some soup she’d made from one of our Rouge vif d’Etampes pumpkins. It had a kick. Not right off the bat. At first, the soup tasted a little sweet because the pumpkin hit first. But then there was a kick and a little burn.
“B. eats like a Texan,” I told G.
I wasn’t even sure whether he’d be able to eat the soup. He’s sensitive to heat. On our first date, we went to a Thai restaurant, and they didn’t ask how hot we wanted our dishes. G.’s made him cry. He was brave. He tried to push through it, but as the tears filled his eyes, he finally had to stop eating.
I’ve made a couple of dishes since then — one of them pumpkin soup from Homesick Texan — that had too much heat. I had to throw them out.
I couldn’t place the heat in B.’s soup. I usually use jalapeno peppers to add heat because we grow them, but that wasn’t the flavor I detected. It turned out the soup had a secret ingredient: Cholula Hot Sauce.
B. uses the original flavor, and if you aren’t from Texas, you might want to do so sparingly. The amount B. used, 1 to 2 tablespoons, was O.K. with G.
Texas Pumpkin Soup
1 cooking pumpkin, about 6 pounds
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons Cholula Hot Sauce
Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out seeds. Place halves, cut side down, in a baking dish and add about an inch of water. Bake at about 400 degrees until you can easily puncture the side with a fork. This will take an hour or so. Scrape the pumpkin out of the skin and place in a stock pot. Blend into a smooth puree using an immersion (handheld) blender.
Saute the onion in a little olive oil until it starts to get clear. Fold into pumpkin puree. Stir in spices. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
To serve, you can add a dollop of sour cream (this will cut the heat) and garnish with a sprinkle of dill and a parsley sprig.
This, by the way, is a thick soup with only the natural liquid from the pumpkin. If you want it thinner, you can add a little water or chicken broth.