Latin Twist: Sopa de Zapallo (Pumpkin Soup!)


Funny how sometime you look at things with different eyes once you’ve tried something outside your home; this is the case for me with sopa de zapallo, pumpkin soup!

My mother, as I’ve mentioned, was the consummate cook and entertainer. Growing up, it was my mom who hosted my dad’s Mad Men parties (yes, he was the consummate Madison Avenue advertising kind of guy!) as well as holiday and family soirées. I remember her making pumpkin soup and serving it hot—in a pumpkin; she used the pumpkin as the source of the soup—and the vessel! It was gorgeous…

My pumpkin soup came to be while I was living in Perú. Every Sunday, my roommate and I would go to the market together, and buy our pumpkin from the pumpkin vendor, a gorgeous and friendly woman who I would like to think looked forward to our visit with her as much as we did! She was, during that time, the one who convinced us to make our sopitas, soups, with this orange squash.

Back in New York, and of course in this season, pumpkins all around! (And if you’re into pumpkin donuts, please do check out my pumpkin fritter post from last week!) This soup is one I adapted from my memory, and from what I had around. Roasting the pumpkin adds a sweet/toasty flavor, and the tomatoes and red onion make it sweet. I like the balance of flavors with a topping toasted ginger and apple, and olive oil-kissed croutons. Hope you like it! ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Sopa de Zapallo—Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound of pumpkin, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
10 to 15 grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
White wine1/2 teaspoon cumin
1-inch peeled ginger root, sliced
1/2 teaspoon butter (or oil!)
1 honey crisp apple, peel and finely chopped
Croutons of ciabatta—or you favorite bread, just toasted with olive oil
Flat leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pumpkin chunks on a lightly greased sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Roast about 30 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat a bit of oil in a deep stock or frying pan. Add the garlic and red onion and sauté, stirring from time to time, until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let simmer until they soften, about another five minutes. Add the stock


or water and simmer for about 5 minutes or until flavors start to meld. Add a splash of wine, the cumin, and adjust seasoning.

Remove from the heat, and blend, in batches, with the chunks of pumpkin.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the butter. Cook the ginger and apple for just a couple of minutes, until they start to become fragrant.

When you’re ready to serve, heat the soup, top with the ginger/apple combination, croutons, and flat leaf parsley.



About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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