The time has come, my friends! It’s soup weather!!
The first soup of this fall is, of course, pumpkin soup. I absolutely love pumpkin soup. It is so creamy, so hearty, so satisfying, and so autumn. I really love taking the time to prepare this soup on the weekend and enjoy it reminiscing about all the fall things we loved to do in Canada.
One thing that’s very special about this soup is the topping. Until coming to Korea I have never tasted pumpkin leaves. I didn’t even know that humans could eat them. However, in Korea people eat every green they can get their hands on, including the leaves of pumpkin plants. They are absolutely delicious and super cheap. While spinach can cost up to 5 dollars for a small bunch in the fall/winter season, pumpkin leaves go for about a dollar for an enormous bag. Chris and I go through a lot of greens together, so I was very happy to discover the alternative to spinach. Pumpkin leaves are a fantastic way to include dark leafy greens in your diet. This pumpkin leaf recipe is enjoyed by Koreans as a side dish but I really like them mixed in with the soup.
1 small/medium pumpkin (seeded, peeled, and cubed)
Pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 dry shitaake mushrooms
1 large carrot, cubed
1 medium sweet potato, cubed
1 c coconut milk
2 bay leaves
1/2 tbs coriander powder
salt and pepper to taste
pumpkin leaves, chopped
1/2 tbsp brown rice syrup
1/2 tbsp soya sauce
sesame seeds for garnish
1. In a large pot, bring the pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, and bay leaves to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes to make stock. Strain the stock and keep aside.
2. Roast the pumpkin cubes in the oven (150 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes or until soft. Set aside.
3. Fry the onions in a large pot until soft. Add the carrots and the sweet potato. Cook until the vegetables are softened.
4. Cover with stock, add the pumpkin, coriander powder and black pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
5. While the soup is simmering, chop the pumpkin leaves and start sweating them in a frying pan.
6. Add the soya sauce and the syrup. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the leaves are fully wilted and cooked. Sprinkle with sesame leaves.
7. Take the soup off and cool. Pure in a food processor in batches.
8. Add the coconut milk to the soup and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste for saltiness and season to your liking.
9. Serve the soup with a handful of cooked pumpkin leaves on top.
The soup never lasts for more than a day in our house. We have it as a snack, lunch, and dinner. I could eat it forever without stopping. It is so versatile, too. To make it more hearty, just add a turnip and a potato. Change the spices to make it less curry-like and choose a different kind of milk (almond, soy, or rice) if you don’t like coconut. This is really a great soup to be able to make because it can be altered to your liking. Pumpkins and pumpkin leaves are full of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin E, which is so great for the skin. Pumpkin leaves are also full of antioxidants, so eat up to keep looking healthy and young!