The pumpkin palette’s painted!

So I finally figured out what to paint upon that pumpkin palette!

To term it an aha! moment would be overstating. More a bingo! moment. Happened while surfing for ideas on my phone seated on pavement outside a grocery store during my 10-minute break at the lame crap job I’m seeking to unload ASAP.

{Ain’t that a mouthful of a sentence!}

Garam masala. Of course!

By no means do I claim to be seasoned {haha, no word play intended} in Indian cuisine and cooking. I do know that India’s northern and southern regions have distinctly differing cuisine featuring different spices. And of course there’s then the microcosmic differences in locales and family recipes passed on through the generations. Northern India, I read, is more garam masala country and southern turmeric. This is one person’s opinion on the Internet. Believe at your own peril!

Anyhow, as I mentioned, I already have a homemade chicken-veggie soup starring turmeric and complementary spices such as coriander and cumin in the fridge. Hence for the roasted kabocha, I hankered for another flavor palette.

So when I stumbled across garam masala — mystery solved!

Frankly — and sadly — I didn’t have a lot of time or energy to create a pumpkin soup with a punch! It was late by the time I got home last night. The (lame crap) job, as usual, had zapped me of my vitality. The night was cold, I’d not eaten all day and I had somewheres to be shortly.

All adding up to a Rush Job. (No relation to Limbaugh.)

While I loooove cooking dishes that are complicated, challenging, take time, energy, commitment and creativity, yesterday’s challenge — paint that pumpkin palette, pronto! — reminds me that there’s a place — nee need — for Healthful Food on the Fly.

{gross, wash that fly image outta my mind!}

So, on that note, here’s how “My Hasty Kabocha Soup” shook down.

1. Created a base of chicken stock using Better than Bouillon in the jar. About 5 cups.

I could sing the praises of this product until the cows come home! — speaking of India — and have. {somewheres a post on it.} I’m hardcore about my soup bases. Uncompromising, unyielding. Either the broth’s homemade from real bones or Better Than Bouillon. I do NOT do those dry cubes. Never. You won’t either once you taste Better Than Bouillon. Enough said.

2. Pulled that waiting pan of 1 roasted kabocha + 2 white onions + 4 garlic cloves, all roasted the day before, close.

3. Added 1 immersion blender.

4. Removed the boiling chicken stock from the stove. (Don’t use immersion blenders with a heat source.) Added the veggies in increments to blend.

An immersion blender is best employed in a tall vertical narrow container (i.e., blender design). Why? Because when buzzing in a large open pot, liquid goes flying! Kabocha splatters across my clothing, face, stovetop, walls!

Regardless of how carefully and meticulously (I’m the Queen of Meticulous) I tried to keep everything contained within the pot, I was still wiping soup off my shirt! I’m sure one day I’ll discover pumpkin splatters in some strange spot clear across the kitchen.

Anyhow, messy though it be, I made it work. The trick with an immersion blender, beyond blending within a tall container which I didn’t have, is working in small batches. An immersion blender’s blade isn’t large — think coffee grinder — and is easily overloaded. Employ patience. And a rain suit {kidding!}

5. Once everything was blended into mush, I tasted. The pumpkin, onions & garlic, all roasted and salted with Himalayan pink salt (sea salt would also work — I don’t do iodized!) and caramelized, could’ve stood alone. Still. I had other ideas.

6. The final note:  2 tsp. of garam masala. Pow! The Perfect Pumpkin Punch!

On a side note, I finally decided to add a touch of creaminess. So poured in 1/4 cup of half-and-half (I use it sparingly in my coffee, otherwise cannot stand the taste of milk!). Yum. Just right!

7. For zest, I roasted a half handful of pecans (that I chopped) and pumpkin seeds. On an ungreased skillet on the stove. Simple. When roasting nuts, be mindful not to burn, lest your tastebuds incur the wrath of bitterness.

8. Voila!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you can indeed leave on the dark green-brown skin on kabocha. As with the humble potato, it’s packed with nutrients. And though it’s tough as wood and you’re tempted to rent a chainsaw when slicing into pumpkin, the peel softens beautifully when cooked (roasted, steamed, etc.).

I looooove skins left on foods (I’m a nature girl that way); your mileage may vary. Just know that by in leaving the skin on, you sacrifice that gorgeous bright orange we all recognize for an earthy burnt orange. (Personally, when it’s just me eating, it’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make for “peely perks.”)

The pumpkin palette’s painted. Soup’s on! And God bless garam masala!

Come, come kabocha!

Come, come kabocha!

Come closer, kabocha!

Come closer, kabocha!


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