Grilled Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup
Given the season, I wasn’t too surprised to see “Something Orange” blow away all the other colors for dishes in the poll last week. I ended up making two orange dishes in an effort to get something really orange. Turns out Mother Nature is a bit of a trickster and what appears to be orange is sometimes more of a light yellow.
Case in point: Pumpkin. Pumpkin was such an obvious choice for this and I’m assuming it’s what everyone wanted me to make! I mean, come one, look how orange it is!
Over the long weekend I went over to a friend’s house to grill and brought along this beauty of a gourd. I had very high ambitions! I was going to slice it up, peel off that rough rind, grill it, and glaze it with a sweet-heat glaze I came up with.
Grilled Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup
Yield: Serves 6.
1 medium, ripe pumpkin
The Sweet Heat Glaze:
2 Tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar (I used the good stuff)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne
1 Teaspoon Chipotle seasoning (less if you want)
Butternut Squash Soup:
1 medium butternut squash (mine weighed about 3 pounds after peeling and cubing)
1/3 of a pumpkin (probably 1/2 pound. I'm not sure this had any effect on the final taste.)
1 medium onion, diced
1 Cup carrots, chopped
3 Tablespoons butter
6 cups liquid (I used 4 cups homemade vegetable stock I had plus two cups water.)
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne (adjust to your heat liking)
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon (adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper (lots of fresh ground pepper is good. I probably used like 2 Teaspoons at least.)
Blender or Immersion Blender
Grilled Pumpkin (using 2/3 of a medium sized pumpkin)
1) Whisk sweet heat glaze together in a bowl.
2) Peel the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler or paring knife (you can skip this part if you want – it was difficult and would probably be better with the rind left on).
3) Slice peeled pumpkin into half-inch segments and toss with a bit of olive oil.
4) Place on hot grill.
5) Baste right away with the sweet heat glaze.
6) Turn them every 3-4 minutes and glazed the other side for a total of 10 minutes.
Butternut Squash Soup
1) Cube up all the squash. You will need to peel it which, again, is kind of a pain, but it’s worth the effort.
2) Get a large soup pan or sauce pan going over high heat and add butter.
3) Sauté onions and carrots for 5 minutes until they start to soften, then add squash and pumpkin.
4) Cook for another 5-10 minutes and then add liquid!
5) Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are very tender.
6) Using a blender or immersion blender, take everything for a spin.
7) Pour blended soup back into large pot and return it to medium heat.
8) Add all the spices and taste for salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some chives
I got the grilled fired up and started attacking my pumpkin which, I’ve determined, is really the best way to slice it (via attacking). I was a bit disappointed when I sliced it into thirds and reveals a yellowish flesh.
Totally NOT ORANGE!
As an aside, if you need help cutting into a pumpkin, I treated it like a spaghetti squash and it worked great.
Anyway, back to the task at hand. I definitely wasn’t going to give up just because it didn’t meet my immediate color expectations. I guess I have just never really taken note on the actual color of pumpkin flesh… So I pulled out the seeds (and a friend roasted them with Old Bay – GOOD!), and then I finished chopping the pumpkin into thirds.
Next, I worked on my glaze!
Whisk this all together like so (please note the orange spice in the top right photo. Thanks.):
Grilling the pumpkin
I decided to peel the pumpkin before grilling it. Not going to lie, this is a pretty arduous task. The rind is pretty intense and it takes some work with a vegetable peeler or some pretty good paring knife skills to peel the thing. Then I sliced it into half inch segments and tossed them in just a bit of olive oil and got them on a hot grill.
If I were to do this all over again, the one thing I would change is I don’t think I would peel the pumpkin. That might sound crazy, but what ended up happening is as the pumpkin cooked it got kind of flimsy. I think the hard rind would help keep the pieces together. Then you can basically serve it like slices of melon!
Also, it’s seriously a pain to peel it so avoid it if you can.
As you can see, once I got them on the grill, I started basting them right away with the sweet heat glaze! I turned them every 3-4 minutes and glazed the other side.
After about 10 minutes, I was getting perfect grill marks. I was pretty excited!
I used all of the glaze and you could try to pick up the finished product, but they were pretty flimsy. A fork was a good idea.
Well, they were only kind of orange. And they tasted okay. They weren’t bad, but they were kind of weak on flavor. Turns out pumpkin is a bit bland in its raw form… Like I said, I think I would leave the rind on if I were to try it again. That would help with the texture and make it easier to eat and prepare. The glaze was pretty tasty though, but I think it might work better on a pork chop than a slice of pumpkin! If I were going to use it on pumpkin again, I might add a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon, or allspice to bring out some more pumpkin flavor.
Butternut Squash Soup
I felt a little let down about the grilled pumpkin. It was okay, but I wanted to make something else. I actually only grilled 2/3′s of the pumpkin I had so I thought I would mix the last third with some butternut squash and make a delicious soup.
When I cut into the butternut squash (which is a very tan yellow on the outside), I remembered that they are, in fact, BRIGHT orange on the inside!
I really have no answer for this other than pure luck.
I wasn’t going to take my chances though so I decided to add a few more ingredients to the soup that I knew, for a fact, to be orange.
Making the soup
This is a very easy soup to make actually. First, cube up all your squash. You will need to peel it which, again, is kind of a pain, but it’s worth the effort.
Get a large soup pan or sauce pan going over high heat and add your butter. Saute your onions and carrots for 5 minutes until they start to soften, then add your squash and pumpkin. Cook for another 5-10 minutes and then add your liquid! The liquid should just cover all the veggies.
Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are very tender. Then, using a blender or immersion blender, take everything for a spin. I had to blend mine in three batches in my stand blender. Don’t overfill your blender unless you want orange walls.
Then pour your blended soup back into your large pot and return it to medium heat. Add all your spices and taste for salt and pepper. It should be really smooth but have just a hint of spice to it.
Ideally, you would serve this with a dollop of sour cream and some chives. I didn’t really have either of those so I just served it “naked” with a small salad and some toasted baguette. Delicious though!
So as a wrap-up on this adventure in the land of orange:
- The soup was amazing. It also makes a bunch and keeps for days. It also happens to be decently orange.
- The pumpkin has potential on the grill, but needs some work. (Any ideas people?)
- I need to bottle and SELL the Sweet Heat Glaze.
Update: A kind reader emailed me immediately after I published this and said my pumpkin problem is because I didn’t let it age for a few weeks before cutting into it. Essentially, mine wasn’t quite ripe! If you let them sit in a dry, ventilated spot for a few weeks that will apparently solve the texture/color issue I was having. Kind reader Dan also said that the stem should be completely dry and hard before cutting into it. They are pretty sturdy gourds, but be careful not to let them rest too long on a solid or wet surface or they’ll rot.
Learn something new every day!