Thursday, January 5, 2012

A 35 degree drop

Yesterday morning it was cold. Really cold.  14 (F) degrees cold.  Yes, there are colder places. I grew up in the mid-west and I remember what -30 feels like. But you have to know that two days before yesterday the temperature was 49 degrees.  For those that aren't quick with math, that's a 35 degree drop, in two days.  That's a return-from-a-tropical-vacation kind of drop. Without a vacation.  Not a Jan 3 to Jan 5 drop. It was a shock to the system.  It hurt to breathe.  My toes were numb. I had to struggle with  my boys to bundle up since two days prior they were playing football in short sleeves.

So what's a person to do?  Besides putting on wool socks and wool hats and wool fingerless mittens. Make soup!  A nice thick, hearty soup. With lots of flavor.  The kind of soup that will warm you to your toes. I had this image of every stove top in the DC area with a pot of soup, bubbling and steaming. 

I made this soup early in the day.  I stopped right before adding the pasta. I went about my day, doing laundry, checking e-mails, knitting, picking up children from school, helping with homework, all the time smelling the melding curry and chicken and veggies. 

An almost finished secret to-be-gifted afghan.

It's a curried chicken and pumpkin soup.  The first time I read the recipe for this soup, I skimmed all the ingredients and my brain screamed "too much, there are too many flavors in this soup."  There is curry and pumpkin and corn and  noodles and it's creamy. I was sure I wouldn't like it.   But I was testing recipes for our preschool's cook book and I decided to give it a try.  It blew me away.  The flavors work perfectly.  It's thick and hearty and sweet and savory.  It's thick, almost a stew. The perfect thing to warm your body and soul.  This might just be my all-time favorite soup.

Here it is:

Curried Chicken and Pumpkin Soup

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs curry powder (I like it to be a heaping Tbs)
4-6 chicken thighs, thinly sliced*
2-3 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 15-ounces can pumpkin (of course you can use fresh too)
1 cup corn kernels (I usually use 1/2 bag of organic frozen corn)
4 cups of chicken stock
1 cup pasta (short, such as shells or macaroni- gluten free pasta works well in this recipe)
1/2 cup cream or whole milk
1 tsp salt (or to taste, depends on how salty your chicken stock is)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, cook over low heat, until soft. Add the garlic, cook for one minute more.  Add the curry powder and cook for one minute, stirring continually. Add the chicken, carrots, celery, pumpkin, corn, and stock, and bring to a boil.  Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.  Add the pasta. Simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.  Stir in the milk or cream.  Heat, but not bring to a boil.  Salt to taste.

Serve with a good crust bread and farm fresh butter.

*You can use boneless chicken, but I prefer to de-bone my own chicken and save the bones in the freezer for making chicken stock.  Also, throw the ends of the veggies in a zip-top bag in the freezer for making stock. I promise to post later on making your own chicken stock. 

-adapted from Welcome to Our Table: Seasonal Recipes from Acorn Hill, available at


  1. I'm going to have to figure out a veggie version of this soup!

  2. Margy- I'm wondering if you could substitute chickpeas for the chicken. And I'm sure a veggie broth would do, although I'm personally partial to a good chicken stock.