Pumpkin-Corn Chowder

I made this pumpkin soup for dinner last night. Even Sweet Hubs and Boomerang #1 liked it. Neither of them are very soupy people, either. I read the recipe for Pumpkin Soup with Mint-Pumpkin Seed Pesto (in cute little pumpkin bowls, no less!) in this month's issue of Sunset magazine. And true to form, I altered it. Kind of a lot. Mine is just like theirs but entirely different. So here's my recipe. I hope you like it!

1 Pie Pumpkin. Don't get a carving pumpkin for this recipe. You won't like the texture of the soup.
1 quart of good, commercially-prepared chicken stock, or a quart of your own good homemade chicken stock (here's a recipe). Not broth. Stock. Entiendo?
2 Leeks, chopped fairly fine. Or 1 medium onion, chopped.
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
4 tablespoons of butter or bacon grease. (Quit whining! It's just 4 tablespoons!)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups frozen or fresh kernel corn.
1/4 cup of half and half. Or milk.
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, ground red papper, red pepper flakes.... something hot.
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of quick grits, masa, polenta, or even some shredded corn tortillas. OPTIONAL.

Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds to roast and eat later, cover the halves with foil and bake at 350 until tender. (I also make little foil nests to both hold the squash steady and keep the bottom from burning.)

While the cooked pumpkin cools enough for you to handle:

Melt the butter or bacon grease in a large sauce pan and saute the leeks until completely translucent with some browning flecks of yumminess. Add the garlic and saute a few minutes more. Add the cumin and ginger, and when this mess is fragrant and tempting, remove from heat.

Scrape the pumpkin flesh out of the shells and drop it in your blender with the leek-garlic mixture. Add enough chicken stock to puree this very smoothly. Add this to the rest of the chicken stock in your sauce pan. When it come to a simmer, add the cheese. When the cheese is melted, toss in the rest of the ingredients. I added quick grits to give the soup a very satisfying and substantial body. If you like soupier soup, leave it out. It's your call.

We all agreed we liked this very much. The men thought that some crumbled bacon on top would be oh-so-good. I agreed. I also think some green chilis in there might be pretty dang wonderful. Next time, I think I'll use roasted corn, too.

I served it with some homemade bread and a glass of wine.

Well, OK. I was the only one who had wine.

I earned it.


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