I’m not going to lie to you–this soup is a bit of a pain.  It’s not hard, by any means; it’s just time-consuming, in a tedious sort of way.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather do something quick and challenging than something easy and tedious.  Still, though, it’s worth the effort (and don’t you dare even think about leaving out the spiced crema–that’s the best part).

You can very easily divide this recipe in half, if you are so inclined.  As is, it’s fit for about sixteen servings, give or take.

First of all, set your oven at 375º.

Now round up the following ingredients:

  • a pumpkin of about 4 lbs.
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 1 c. grated piloncillo
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • some kosher salt
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 2 white or yellow onions, recklessly chopped
  • 6 ancho chiles, no stems or seeds, likewise recklessly chopped*
  • 4 cloves of garlic, also likewise
  • 1/2 g. chicken stock, vegetable stock, water, or any combination thereof
  • 1 c. good, fresh o. j.
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 avocado leaf
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • spiced crema and pepitas for garnishing, both of which we’ll get to momentarily

*–After I’ve popped off the stems and whacked out the seeds, I like to let my anchos soak in hot water for a few minutes.  That makes them softer (and easier to chop up) and also aids in getting rid of any residual dirt and recalcitrant seeds.

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the gunk and the seeds.  Ditch the gunk, but keep the seeds, which are destined to become pepitas.  Put the pumpkin, cut sides up, on a sheet pan.  Dot both halves with butter and sprinkle them with about half of the piloncillo.  Sprinkle them also with a pinch of each of the spices and some salt.  Cover them with foil and let them rest comfortably in your 375º oven 30 or 45 minutes–until the flesh is weak and starting to get kind of spottily brown.

Roast the pumpkin seeds at the same time; just toss them around with some olive oil and a fair dose of salt first.  You can put them right there on the same pan, and they’ll be done when the pumpkin itself is done.  Works out nicely.

Okay, now sweat the onion in some olive oil.  Take your sweet time.

That being done, add the anchos and the garlic for two minutes or so, and then the rest of the piloncillo, the pumpkin flesh (toss the skin, or whatever you want to call it), the stock(s)/water, o. j., spices, bay leaves, and avocado leaf.  Leave the hail clanjamfrie at a bare simmer for about 20 minutes.  Pluck out the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and avocado leaf.

Now transfer the stuff, in batches, to your trusty food processor or blender, and purée the hell out of it.  Once the hell has been puréed out, run each batch through a super-fine strainer** and into a clean receptacle of some appropriate size and purpose.  Stir in the heavy cream and then taste it.  Adjust the seasoning as you see fit.

**–Ideally, you’d use a fancy-pants gadget which is called, for some French and mysterious reason, a chinois.  A chinois, though a very nice thing to have, is a ludicrously expensive fancy-pants gadget.  You’re talking to a guy who owns three mandolines, four rolling pins, a massive KitchenAid mixer, two MicroPlanes, a ceramic tater peeler, and heaven only knows how many other pleasing doo-dads, but I’m not about to drop a wad on a dang fine-mesh strainer, even if it does have an alluring Sino-Gallic name.

We’re almost done now.  Just make the spiced crema, thus:

  • 2 c. crema, or, barring that, domesticated sour cream
  • 2 oz. honey
  • 2 oz. good, fresh o. j.
  • a sizable pinch each of the three aforementioned spices
  • 1 tsp. or so of salt
  • and you ought to have about 1 c. of the already-done pepitas

Stir everything together (except for the pepitas) and stash it in your icebox for at least an hour.  It’s nice if you can put it into a squeeze bottle, but you don’t have to.

When it comes time to serve it up, ladle the soup into some nice bowls, squeeze a squiggle or glomp a dollop of the spiced crema on top of each, and then sprinkle a few pepitas over it, and you’re done.

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