Autumn is here, heralding crisp air, colored leaves and that rotund squash that is almost synonymous with fall, the pumpkin. Pumpkins usually mean two things to most people: jack o' lanterns and pumpkin pie. However, the flavor of pumpkin works in a variety of recipes outside of pie. The orange color of pumpkins is reflective of a high beta carotene content, which helps eyesight. Pumpkins are a low calorie food and a great source of fiber. The taste of pumpkin is savory and rich, making it perfect for all manner of main dishes.
Pumpkins, as a member of the squash family, are native to North America. The large pumpkins typically used for decoration are not the type that are used for cooking or put in commercial canned purees or pumpkin pie filling. The sugar pie pumpkin is a smaller cultivar that is usually used for cooking. Pumpkins are a type of winter squash usually planted in July and harvested before the first frost.
This pumpkin recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving or Halloween fare, or even just for a comforting fall meal. The creamy, savory taste of pumpkin puree is complimented by the earthy taste of sage and the smokey taste of ham. Vegetables and apple lend a slight crunch and work to make the soup feel filling and hearty.
Pumpkin Ham Soup with Sage
3 tbsp butter
2 ribs of celery
1 small, tart apple such as a Granny Smith
2 cups canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1 tbsp dried sage
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds of ham
Sour cream for serving (optional)
Peel onions and carrots and chop into medium dice, set aside. Slice celery ribs in half lengthwise, and then chop into small dice. Peel and core the apple, and then cut into half-inch dice. Chop ham into quarter-inch pieces.
Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot and apple. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the pumpkin puree and then add the wine or vermouth, sage and bay leaf. Stir to combine. Add the broth, salt and pepper and then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover partially. Continue simmering for approximately 15 minutes.
Add the chopped ham and remove the lid. Continue simmering uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until heated through and the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Add a dollop of sour cream to each bowl if desired.
This pumpkin recipe is sure to bring out the pumpkin lover in everyone who thought the infamous gourd was just for pie.