I had planned to share some details of our noteworthy food and drink experiences in Vancouver, the Okanagan, and Squamish/Whistler/Pemberton from the summer, but the truth is that my heart belongs to fall and my brain is completely clouded over with infatuation for breezy gray days and root vegetables. And with the making of this soup, there is just no coming back – you’ve been warned.
Yesterday my mum dropped off a giant farm care package at my house, including a big ‘ole pie pumpkin and two pounds of bacon from the summer’s pigs. My first thought was to whip up some pumpkin pancetta pasta – but what to do with the rest?
We still have a bunch of pumpkin beers kicking around in the fridge (working on a ‘best of’ pumpkin beer post) and being that I am a cheese fiend, I started to think about beer cheese soup and how much more appealing it suddenly seemed with the velvety sweetness of fresh pumpkin……so I tabled my plans to make pear ginger coconut carrot soup and got down to business breaking down my pumpkin.
The small amount of curry powder and apple give just a bit of depth, but I deliberately stayed away from cinnamon and other Indian cross-over spices in order to retain the soup’s autumnal herb and cheese flavour.
The beer I chose, Howe Sound’s Pumpkin Strong Ale, has quite a powerful molasses note that worked exceptionally well here. You will probably still have great results with a nut brown or an amber, but the pungent taste of a strong ale is ideal.
Pumpkin, Beer, and Smoked Gouda Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Half a large sweet white onion, diced small
- 1 gala apple, diced large
- 2 carrots, thickly sliced into coins
- 1 tablespoon of mild curry powder
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 big sprig of thyme
- sage leaves
- 4.5 – 5 cups of pumpkin, large dice (sweet pie pumpkin)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1.5 cups strong ale
- 1 – 1.5 cups grated smoked gouda
- Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Sweat the onions for a few minutes until they start to get translucent and then add the apple. Sautee them together until the apple becomes fragrant and starts to soften.
Add the carrots and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes or so.
Add the lightly smashed clove of garlic and the curry powder. Stir and work into the vegetables until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the vegetable stock, beer, and diced pumpkin. Stir it all together then crank up the heat to medium-high.
When it starts to come to a boil, stir in a few sage leaves a big sprig of thyme.
Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin and carrot are both very tender. I am always surprised at just how quickly pumpkin cooks!
Remove from the heat. Remove the big branch of thyme and a couple of the sage leaves. I left one sage leaf in the soup when I blended it all together with my hand blender.
Return the pot to the stove and stir in the cheese in small handfuls, over low heat. Smoked gouda is not a great melting cheese so there will be flecks of curd-like cheesy bits in your soup but it mostly melts, which I think is the best of both worlds. You could also use an aged white cheddar. I didn’t add any salt or pepper until the very end, which is the best way to go with anything cheese heavy because you’re going to get some salt/seasoning from the cheese itself.
I served this up for dinner sprinkled with spicy sweet roasted pumpkin seeds on top and kale chips for crunch.
This dish has inspired me to try going all the way with Indian spices and stewed pumpkin. Maybe also with kale stewed into it and some cubed paneer. Pumpkin Saag Paneer, anyone? I wish I had a hollow leg. And another pumpkin.