Pumpkin soup with crema and toasted pepitas

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Pepitas (crunchy dark green, hulled pumpkin seeds) add a delightful texture to this toothsome soup.  The spice comes from the chiltepin, a very hot chile that grows wild in the Southwest.  The cultivated variety, pequin, can be used as a substitute.


4 Tbsp. butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 chile tepins, crushed
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked pumpkin (fresh or canned)
2 tsp. salt
1-1/3 cups milk
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup Mexican crema

Soup: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the chile tepins and cayenne pepper.  Put the onion mixture into a blender or food processor with the pumpkin, salt and milk; purée until smooth.  Pour mixture into a large saucepan, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer until soup is hot and the ingredients are well incorporated, 10 to 15 minutes.

Put the raw pepitas in a large nonstick skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring, until the seeds are fragrant, light brown, and begin to pop, 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside.

To serve:  Ladle the soup into bowls. Put the Mexican crema in a plastic squeeze bottle and decorate the bowls of soup by drizzling it on top of the soup.  Sprinkle a few teaspoons of toasted pepitas on top of each serving.

Yields: 12-14