This Sunday, I looked at my pile of pumpkins and started a free improvisation soup composition. The result: a savory Red Curry Pumpkin Peanut soup that was heartily enjoyed by guests from Occupy Wall Street and Vassar College at the Occupy Poughkeepsie encampment.
This soup is packed with protein, fiber, flavor, and thermal inertia. You might be a nerd if you try to convince someone to try a bowl of soup based on its thermal inertia, but those are exactly the words I heard come out of my mouth, standing on the dark streets of Poughkeepsie. By that, I meant it 'holds its heat', once warm, it stays warm for a long time and will keep your body warm too.
For this soup, I started with 2 pumpkins of 2 different varieties. One 'Long Island Cheese' which is shown cut open above with the seeds mostly cleaned out, has a dull pale outer skin and a deep orange flesh. When you cut into one, you'll get an aroma like a sweet melon. These pumpkins are as big as the jack-o-lantern pumpkins that most people don't eat, but they have a much more flavorful and dense flesh.
The other pumpkin was a smaller 'sugar' or 'pie' pumpkin. It has a deep orange outer skin and pale, but sweet flesh on the inside.
When the lentils were nearly disintegrated and the pumpkin cool enough to handle, I scooped the flesh out of the pumpkin with a large spoon and plopped it into the soup. The lentils and pumpkin simmered together for a moment while I went upstairs to borrow my landlady's immersion blender. Being very careful, not to burn myself with molten pumpkin and lentils, I blended until the contents of the whole pot were nice and smooth.
I drained and chopped the softened bean thread noodles....
and shiitake mushrooms, and threw them into the pot.
I seasoned the soup with several Tbs of Thai Kitchn brand red curry paste, about 1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter, a dash of salty ume plum vinegar. a generous dash of soy sauce (I would have used fish sauce but I was making this soup be vegan), a splash of cider vinegar to brighten the flavor, a large dollop of tamarind concentrate and a squirt of Sriracha sauce for a bit of heat. I was dismayed to find my fresh ginger had given up the ghost in the fridge, so I used some dried ginger, but fresh would have been much better. As you might guess, this was not a precise process. I rummaged through the flavors in my spices and condiments and added a bit of this and that, tasting as I went along. This is the fun part! I recommend you try it and don't worry too much about conforming to any standard. Just balance salty, sour, sweet, umami, hot, and bitter and keep going until it makes your mouth happy.
The flavor was nicely balanced and the texture was almost there. The broth was smooth and rich on the tongue. The mushrooms were nicely chewy and the noodles were fun, but it needed a bit of crunch. I had a purple kohlrabi in the fridge from the last CSA pick up of the year. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage/turnip. It has the texture of a very crisp apple and a flavor like very sweet brocolli.
I cut the kohlrabi into matchsticks and used them as a crunchy garnish with color contrast.
Who says occupation dining can't be elegant?