Here is a steaming soup, with the benefits of pumpkin and spices, for your fall table. Ongoing scientific research suggests that a chemical compound in Asian pumpkins improves insulin levels and lowers blood sugar. This dovetails with the Chinese tradition, in which pumpkin is also considered especially beneficial for people with the symptoms of diabetes.
This soup is especially good for eating in the fall and winter, warming cold hands and feet. Also, pumpkin dishes are particularly helpful for people concerned about diabetes, beautifying the skin, constipation, or the prevention of prostate cancer, atherosclerosis, or gastric ulcers.
For those familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine, this dish is good for those with Spleen deficiency or for moistening the Lungs and Large Intestine.
10-12 ounces of pumpkin or winter squash (about 2 cups when cubed)
6 whole cloves
2 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 (1-2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ cup unflavored soy milk
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed and discarded
Themes and Variations:
You can add different vegetables to the soup, such as yam, celery, or carrot cut into 1-inch pieces; simmer them along with the pumpkin. Other types of milk may be substituted for soy milk, if you prefer. Canned pumpkin can work in a pinch if you don’t have fresh pumpkin.
- Seed, peel, and chop the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes. An efficient way to chop a pumpkin is to cut it into wedges, cut off the skin if desired, then cut the wedges into cubes. A large, sharp cleaver can be a useful tool here as the raw vegetable can be tough. Another handy trick is to place the pumpkin in a microwave for 5 minutes to soften it before cutting and peeling.
- Combine the pumpkin, cloves, and stock in a pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onions are translucent and soft (about 5 minutes).
- When the pumpkin is done, remove the cloves from the broth (they will float on top of the liquid).
- Combine the pumpkin mixture, the onion mixture, and the soy milk, using a hand blender to whip it into a smooth puree. If you don’t have a hand blender, use a blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle in the green cilantro leaves on top of the soup for a flavorful and colorful garnish.
Recipe by Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir, and Mika Ono, from the book Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life.