80 degrees at the end of September. [Flips table. Curses loudly.]
Listen. I’m not exactly your garden variety pumpkin spice proponent, but I love fall. I love winter more (contain your emotions) but fall is an undeniably swell season full of fun, visual delights, and most importantly an absence of subway sweat. But here we are, rounding the corner of October, and it’s still insufferably hot.
One might think, “hey Shani, just make a nice gazpacho, pour yourself an ice cold spicy beer, and have yourself a Saturday.” I am far to cynical and grumpy for your logical ballyhoo. I want cool weather and I want it right now. I am, at this very minute, staring up into the most perfect clear blue Brooklyn sky you’ve ever seen and all I can think is that I want to give it the middle finger.
So I’m making soup. I’m saying fuck da weather and I’m making soup. A roasted tomato and pumpkin soup in fact. I kind of see it as a crossover soup, or gateway soup if you will, to take me from summer to fall, whenever our angry, hurricaney, earthquakey planet decides to cooperate, temperature-wise. Reduce your carbon footprint bitches, things are getting biblical.
This is one of those rare situations where I cook with no recipe at all. I searched for a healthy tomato-pumpkin recipe to use as training wheels, but I couldn’t find one I liked, so we’re flying without a parachute today, kids. Entirely made-up ingredients and directions are below, and as a bonus, the tale of how I screwed this soup up, and then fixed it.
- tomatoes (I used 5 small ones). I wanted to go to the farmers market but it would have added an extra two miles into my day and I kinda just wanted to go home and wear comfy pants. So I got my tomatoes at Trader Joe’s. Ring the shame bell.
- about 1/3 of a can of pumpkin puree (there is a full can in this photo, I didn’t use that, I used the baggie of pumpkin I had in my freezer but it looked gross thawing out so it’s not a visual here.)
- three large garlic cloves, smashed
- about a fourth of an onion cut into large chunks
- a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary and sage
- about a cup of chicken or vegetable stock
- a big splash of orange juice
- a small splash of sherry vinegar (if you don’t have this, use red wine vinegar, or just skip it. really not a big deal.)
- a bit of leftover oil from frying sage (I’ll explain)
- a tiny bit of smoked paprika or pimentón. TINY, y’all.
- olive oil, salt, pepper
- a cutting board, a knife, a bowl, basic shit
- a cookie sheet or sheet pan
- some foil
- a pot
- a really good blender. or a shitty blender and deal with just-okay soup
- about two hours on a Saturday and a decent jazz playlist on Spotify
- roast the tomatoes, onion, and garlic on a sheet pan for about 45 minutes. to prep them I just chopped my veggies, put ’em in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and smooshed them around, then put them on the sheet pan and lay the fresh herbs on top. (make sure you line the pan in some kind of nonstick situation or shit will get ugly later.)
- you have 45 minutes to do with what you please. I washed dishes and answered some work emails. I’m a party animal.
- after roasting, discard the herbs and put the contents of the sheet pan in a pot with the pumpkin, chicken stock, OJ, vinegar, and seasoning.
- while the soup is simmering, chop up some sage and fry it in a little olive oil. You’ll use the sage as garnish, and a little bit of the oil it leaves behind goes into the pot with the soup. Sounds weird, is delicious.
- let the soup simmer for about 15–20 minutes, then put everything in a blender (carefully) and blend really well.
- transfer soup back into the pot and simmer awhile longer if the soup is thinner than you want it to be (this happened to me).
- put some soup in a bowl, garnish with crispy sage, Instagram it (#SingleGirlSoup), enjoy.
Okay so the real story of what happened to this soup.
When I put all the roasted ingredients into the pot and started adding my seasonings, the smoked paprika went apeshit and coughed about two tablespoons of the stuff into the pot, where I only wanted a pinch. FUCK. I really didn’t want to waste the soup, but my whole apartment smelled of paprika at this point and I was getting a little concerned, as was the cat. To remedy the situation, I added one more cup of chicken stock to the whole mess, and one more fresh tomato. When I transferred the soup to the blender, I mostly just transferred the solids, and left most of the paprika disaster broth in the pot, and threw it away. Then I blended what was left, and by some miracle, it was delicious. And that is the story of Hanukkah.