Thanksgiving + Brazil = Pumpkin Soup | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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Thanksgiving + Brazil = Pumpkin Soup

Our Brazilian-Jewish recipe writer can’t resist tweaking her family’s classics.
Thanksgiving + Brazil = Pumpkin Soup

Leticia Schwartz, originally of Rio. Via

Serves 4 to 6

1 hr

1 hr 15 min

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The beauty of Thanksgiving – that it’s such a classic holiday, and nobody has to wonder what they’re having for dinner – can also make it a bit boring. What’s a girl to do?

Not that I am trying to give a full menu makeover on Thanksgiving — we all expect certain dishes — but I can’t resist adding my Latin touch.

It’s time for something new when it comes to the soup: pumpkin. Not that pumpkin soup is new, but it’s not typical at Thanksgiving. Yet it’s an iconic autumnal vegetable, and it’s very receptive to Brazilian flavors. We can also make it more creamy, and still keep it pareve, by using coconut milk. Hmmm … how about a garnish of some spiced pumpkin seeds, as well?

But how would my American family feel about my relentless tweaking of their beloved dishes? Would I trample on tradition?

I called my sister-in-law and she was open to the experiment. Love you, sis!

When the soup emerged from the blender, fragrant with cinnamon, coconut and nutmeg, I knew it would work for Thanksgiving and beyond. The flavor combinations in this creamy and yet light soup are complex, but making it is quite easy and you can also make it ahead and freeze it, making it one less thing to deal with on the frantic “day of.”

Like the best appetizers, this soup wakes up the palate, still leaving plenty of room for the big guy. It is, by itself, a good enough reason to celebrate fall, surrounded by family, friends and pumpkin. 

Air Jordan


For the pumpkin seeds

1 egg white

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds

For the soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

One 3 pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups, or a total weight of 2 pounds)

3 small carrots, coarsely chopped, (about 1 cup)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 onions, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

3 to 4 cups chicken stock

¾ cup white wine

2 cups coconut milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil for garnish

  1. To make the seeds, first pre-heat the oven at 300˚F and line a baking sheet with a non-stick mat or parchment paper; grease with baking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites with a fork until lightly foamy. Add the sugar, salt, paprika, cayenne and cinnamon. Add the pumpkin seeds and fold them with a spatula, making sure every seed is coated with the seasoning.
  3. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven, until they are fragrant and lightly colored on the edges, about 20 minutes. Be sure to stir them with a spatula once or twice during baking time. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely. Break them up. You can prepare the seeds at least 2 weeks ahead of time and keep them in an airtight container.
  4. To make the soup, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the pumpkin and carrots. Season very lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to let it turn brown.
  5. Add the onions and continue to cook stirring occasionally until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary.
  6. Add the garlic and let it get hot, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the white wine and let it reduce almost completely, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  9. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil again. Season lightly with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and gently simmer the soup until the pumpkin and carrots are completely cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. As each batch of soup is pureed, pour it directly into a strainer set over another saucepan. Use a ladle to help pass the soup through the fine sieve, but don’t press hard on the solids that accumulate on the strainer. Discard the solids.
  11. Add the butter or margarine and whisk well.
  12. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning one more time with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a few drops of olive oil and the seeds.

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