There’s something to be said about pushing yourself to get out of a rut. Google the definition of the word. It states that a rut is a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change; it’s doing the same thing over and over again just because, then starting to believe that that’s somehow your life’s fate. You start to believe that status quo is the only quo to go. (I just looked up the definition of “quo” and, although slightly vague, I think it’s safe for me to use that word as part of the quip I just went for. Just pretend that I’m clever. Now let us proceed.)
I’ve had pumpkin soup … a lot. If I see it on a restaurant’s menu around this time of year, I’m gonna order it. I’ve even gone as far as to ask friends and family for their Halloween pumpkins, after they’re done using them for decor and tablescapes so that I can make pumpkin soup. If you must know, even this pumpkin in the picture came from a pumpkin I painted that sat outside our front door for the past month that I scrubbed the paint off of to be able to cook. Let it go; shame is wasted on me.
Even though I feel the need (and sometimes, the obsession) to eat pumpkin soup every single fall without fail, I’ve been recently unable to deny that it has started to feel like a mundane practice. See, what I had tried to make myself believe was that eating this soup in the same way every year was somehow a tradition. However, I’ve begun to realize that it’s actually a closed-minded perspective, in practice, with something that has the power to be so much greater. I haven’t changed my pumpkin soup recipe in the 12 years I’ve been making it. It’s pumpkin. It’s chicken broth. It’s cream. It’s salt and pepper. It’s good … but is it great? Should I try for great or is good … enough? These are things I ask myself about the food I make quite daily, not because I’m nuts (although …) but because food makes me think about what is infinitely possible.
If you think I’m really only talking about pumpkin soup, you’re missing the point. What’s the pumpkin soup in your life? Why have you not branched out? Do you fear change? Do you think you’re incapable of creating and/or experiencing something better? Are you just too lazy to try something new? Whatever the case may be, if you ever find yourself in a rut, consider the endless possibilities — some far simpler to achieve than you might expect. Try and change your way of thinking. It’s never too late to surprise yourself.
1 medium-sized pumpkin (2 cups cooked), seeds removed and cut into quarters
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 medium shallot, peeled
1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters
6 cardamom pods
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/3 tsp ground ginger or fresh
1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk
2 cups water
1 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken Base
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Red Pepper Oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pumpkin, green apples, shallot, and onion onto large baking sheet. Drizzle with safflower oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Spread evenly and roast in oven for 20 minutes. If pumpkin meat is not yet tender, remove all of the other ingredients and place pumpkin back in the over for another 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
In the meantime, preheat stove top to medium-high heat and place cardamom pods, coriander, chili powder, and ginger in the base of a deep pot or dutch oven with 1 Tbsp safflower oil. Warm spices until cardamom pods are golden brown. Lower heat to medium-low and pour can of coconut milk into pot. Add water, chicken base and kosher salt. Whisk and simmer on low.
Place pumpkin, apples, shallot, and onion into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Some minimal texture is fine. Pour contents of blender into pot of coconut milk mixture and stir. Bring stove top temperature down to simmer.
Place crushed red pepper and olive oil into small sauce pot and place stove top on the lowest temperature. Steep red pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool and strain red pepper from the oil and place cooled oil into a squeeze bottle.
Preheat small sauce pot with 1/2 cup safflower oil to medium-high heat. Thinly slice 2 cloves of garlic. Place garlic into hot oil and fry for 30-60 seconds. Do not over-fry the garlic or it will be bitter. The garlic will continue to brown even after it comes out of the oil. Transfer garlic chips to a plate and sprinkle with brown sugar and kosher salt while still hot.
Garnish soup with a few drops of red pepper oil, chives, and garlic chips.