When I first moved to China over 6 years ago, I didn’t know how to cook anything. My greatest feat was boiling eggs to make an egg salad sandwich. I couldn’t even make scrambled eggs without over cooking them into a rubbery blob that would make my taste buds cry out for a cheeseburger.
What also made that first year difficult was that I hadn’t realized how much of an unexperienced eater I was. There were all kinds of new foods that I found that I had never heard of before that left me feeling out of place in a new culture. Despite some of the unique (and often strange) things I discovered, I pushed myself to at least try a bite of something new placed in front of me. Through those experiences, my food preferences shifted and I started to branch out and experiment with cooking different kinds of dishes. I don’t remember anything particularly delicious that I made during those first few years, but I did develop a habit that would eventually turn into a love for cooking.
Now, several years later as a newlywed, I find myself still learning and cooking different dishes that include a mixture of Asian and Western flavors. Sometimes I bake an apple crisp and other days I make a spicy stir fry for my husband as he’s become my official taste tester/food critic. This time of year is one of my favorite times to cook as the weather starts to get chilly and lots of delicious vegetables are in season. There is a small organic farm in the city I live in and each week I get a bag of produce delivered to my apartment door. I’ve discovered and tried new vegetables that I hadn’t ever heard of before coming to China and it’s been fun learning how to incorporate new flavors into my meals.
This fall became all about pumpkins for me when I managed to have my very first pumpkin spice latte since it FINALLY came to Starbucks in China. That cinnamon-y taste of autumn is what got me thinking of other ways I could use pumpkin in my cooking this season. My inspiration for this recipe originally came from a restaurant I went to last fall that served its guests a sweet and rich pumpkin soup. I hope this comforting (and easy!) soup inspires you to keep discovering new flavors and ingredients to incorporate into your everyday meals.
There’s a few different ways you can prep your pumpkin, but I like to roast mine in the oven for 30 minutes to soften the skin. This specific pumpkin I’m using is actually called a squash here in China but its flavor is closer to a pumpkin. Either way, you can make this soup using a pumpkin or butternut squash.
After I’ve roasted the pumpkins (I roasted about 700g) at 190 Celsius, I take them out of the oven to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Once they’ve cooled off, I’ll peel the skin using a knife and scoop out the seeds.
You’ll want to use equal parts milk to pumpkin for this specific recipe. I roasted about 3 cups of pumpkin so I poured in 3 cups of coconut milk into a medium sized pot. I think coconut milk is perfect for this kind of soup as it adds to the sweetness and it’s dairy free. After I’ve chopped my pumpkin into 1 inch chunks I’ll toss it into my pot and bring it to a boil.
Once it’s reached a boil, simmer it on low for about 15-20 minutes, or until the pumpkin pieces are very soft. I used my immersion blender to blend up the chunks, but feel free to use whatever kind of food processor you have in your kitchen for this part.
Lastly, I like to add a pinch of salt as well as some pumpkin spice (cinnamon would also work) to my soup. I don’t have an exact measurement for this one as it will really depend on your preference for what you’re feeling. Although, the soup is tasty on its own with a pinch of salt.
So there you have it! An easy, sweet, and creamy soup perfect for any chilly, autumn day.
Have your taste buds changed as you have lived overseas? What do you find yourself whipping up in your kitchen? Share some ideas below!
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