Soup is a very satisfying meal to have on a chilly night and it is always good to have a simple soup recipe on hand when you want something that is both satisfying and easy to make. Pumpkin soup is something that I will often fall back on. Canned pumpkin is an easy starting point (although fresh, boiled and pureed pumpkin is also excellent if you have a little time to make it) when you want something ready fast. Pumpkin by itself is fairly plain, however, so I like to bump up the flavor with some spice and some bacon in this Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Pancetta.
The soup starts out with the pancetta, which is cooked in a large saucepan until it is crisp and caramelized. Some of the fat will have been rendered off of the pancetta and I scoop out the pancetta, but leave the hot fat. I add my pumpkin and spices right to the fat and give them a little stir to capture some of that pork flavor, then add some stock to thin the soup. I always let the soup simmer for at least 30 minutes to help the flavors meld before I serve it. Typically, I serve this with a little yogurt or cream and don’t add any dairy to the soup, but a half cup or so of cream can really give it some extra creaminess if you like cream soups.
Most grocery store butcher and deli areas stock pancetta, and you can get it already diced up or in slices and dice it up yourself. If you don’t have pancetta, you can easily use regular bacon and great great results. I like it both ways, but bacon will add an extra smokiness that works very well with these spices. I call for plenty of pancetta in the recipe because I like to have a lot to top off my soup, but you can use less or more, based on what you have on hand or how many people you are serving.
Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Pancetta
4-oz pancetta, diced
30-oz (2 cans) pumpkin puree
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp chili powder*
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
yogurt or cream, to serve.
In a large saucepan, cook the diced pancetta over medium heat until it is dark and caramelized. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Add pumpkin puree to saucepan (some fat from the pancetta should be left in the pan). Add in maple syrup and spices. Stir well to combine, then add in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, then cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low.
Allow soup to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste.
When ready to serve, divide soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of cream or a small scoop of yogurt and some of the crispy, cooked pancetta.
*if you have ground chipotle pepper, a little extra can go very well with the chili powder. Add a bit more for a spicy, rather than a spiced flavor.