Jamaican Pumpkin Soup (Vegan, Gluten-free, Paleo)

Happy New Year!!!

I don’t know where you might be reading this, but the place from which I am currently writing this post is as cold as ever.  Tomorrow’s supposed to be a high of -13 C. That’s right — a “high.”

It’s cold.

Everything is iced over.

How I would love to be in Jamaica right now.  But I’m not.  I can’t, at least not for the time being.

So I bring the Caribbean to Canada with my cooking.  As far as I’m concerned, I may not be in Jamaican, but Jamaica is in my heart. 🙂

Enough of the mushiness already. 😛

Whenever it gets really cold like this, I like to batch-cook soups that I can freeze and warm up so that they can in turn warm me up in these frigid temperatures.

This one is one of my absolute favourites.  Here’s hoping it will become your go-to soup recipe.

Ingredients

2 stalks of green onion and/or 1 red onion, chopped in half

2 cloves garlic

1 carrot, peeled

1 sprig of fresh thyme, of 1 tsp dried thyme

1 scotch bonnet pepper*

3 cups vegetable broth

4 cups of Jamaican pumpkin, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tsp allspice, ground

½ cup coconut milk

1 tsp lime juice (or juice of ½ a lime) (for a tangy flavor) OR 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (for a “chicken-y” flavor)

1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)

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Soup with my package of scotch bonnet peppers.

Optional Ingredients (recommended especially if you want the soup to stretch, according to my mother)*:

¾ cup “cho cho”/chayote/Christophine

1 celery stalk

1 or 2 potatoes (Irish, Russet or even sweet potato), chopped (skin-on or peeled)

1 lb (or 1 cup peeled and chopped) yam (white, yellow or “renta”/Barbados)

1 cup of “coco”/eddo, chopped

Dumplings/Spinners

*At a later date, I’ll blog about vegetables and ground provisions often eaten in Jamaica, but for now, you should know that Jamaican pumpkin is typically also known as the Calabaza squash elsewhere.  If you can’t find Calabaza squash, feel free to substitute with butternut squash or another orange-fleshed squash.

  1. Place all ingredients (save for the coconut milk, lime juice, nutritional yeast, salt and allspice) in a big soup pot (or dutch pot). Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and simmer for 20 minutes (or until the pumpkin and carrots are tender).
  2. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper and bay leaves. (I mean, you could blend the pepper with the rest of the soup, but that would be one HOT soup).
  3. Carefully transfer the ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth. I say “carefully” because this will be piping hot!  Please don’t burn yourself.  You may want to transfer and blend the soup in batches if it’s easier.  If you have one, you can use an immersion blender instead of a high speed blender and blend the ingredients in your dutch/soup pot until smooth to reduce the chance of splashes.
  4. Once blended, transfer your soup back to the soup pot. Add the lime juice or nutritional yeast.  Stir in the coconut milk and dash with allspice and salt (to taste).  You may add black pepper if you want a spicier soup.
  5. Incorporate your optional ingredients (if adding). Alternatively, you could have cooked these ingredients with the pumpkin, carrots etc, and blended them with the pumpkin in the blender.  It’s up to you.

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Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes

It’s been two months since I baked and brought treats into work — not good. So, I made these “ginger nutmeg spice cupcakes” from Chef Chloe Coscarelli‘s cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen, substituting chickpeas for pumpkin because I didn’t have the latter on hand. Then I topped them off with vanilla cream cheese icing and homemade date caramel. I took them to work to share with my colleagues and they went over very well with my colleagues and even the cleaning lady. Everyone loved them!!! Did I mention that the cupcakes are vegan (and made with mostly organic ingredients)?

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Restaurant Hot-Spot(light): Fresh

Fresh has the best vegan food I have ever had. Period.  Can you believe this is VEGAN?

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Crispy tofu steaks, grilled tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and garlic mayo in a whole wheat tortilla served with a side of marinated kale slaw and yukon fries.

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Pumpkin cupcake with cinnamon frosting and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Sweets from the Earth.

The food was legit.  The tofu tasted like meat.  It was so good that I went back the next week and ordered the same thing again (besides, it was their November special).  I must somehow find the recipe and re-create this…