For years, every season I’ve been looking for a pumpkin which taste would come close to those my parents were growing in Ukraine in nineties. There were so many varieties of pumpkins and winter squashes to try, yet I couldn’t find a single one exciting — too bland, colorless, and fibrous for my taste, especially after cooking. I was ready to give up after my latest disappointment with Sugar Pie pumpkin, when decided to give a try to a larger Cinderella pumpkin I avoided earlier because of the size. Well, so far this variety is the closest to Ukrainian pumpkins I remember. The taste is still not as bright and fruity-sweet as I’d like it to be, but the color and texture are exceptional! Sunny orange and silky juicy, it’s a pleasure to eat it just roasted or cook with its puree. To really enjoy this soup recipe, use your favorite, the best tasting pumpkins and always start from scratch.
“Cinderella Pumpkin. (Rouge vif d’Etampes) C. maxima. This centuries-old French heirloom pumpkin looks just like the coach in the fairy tale Cinderella. The glowing orange color contrasts magically with the very pronounced lobes and flattened top. Tasty, orange flesh transforms pies and savory dishes.”
Cinderella pumpkin is surprisingly easy to cut. You look at the pumpkin and wish you had an axe to deal with it… In reality, it’s an easy job for a good sharp chefs knife. When roasted, it becomes like a soft butter. It makes sense to slice the whole pumpkin, roast all the slices at the same time, scrape pumpkin puree into containers, and than cook with it using as needed.
You can substitute leeks with onions, but leeks are the best in this soup. Any substitution is a step down. Fresh garlic can be substituted with roasted garlic puree. I like adding it fresh for some pungency, which becomes very delicate after you bring soup to the final boil before serving. Miso paste can be optional and substituted with more salt, but actually it’s a secret ingredient in this soup. It adds some depth, but barely recognizable. There are different varieties of miso. They taste different. Choose your favorite and adjust the amount to your taste. If miso is a new ingredient for you, there is a link to the article about it in Recipe Notes section below. This soup is good without any proteins added, but crustacean or scallops make it special. Adding sautéed Gulf of Mexico Brown shrimp or smoked scallops are two my favorite versions.