Cooking In College: Curry Pumpkin Soup with Stuffed Portabellos

Time total: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

Price: $5.60 per serving

Difficulty level: Easy

When we think of fall, pumpkins are one of the first things to come to mind. Soup is another. Clearly, these two things should marry and have a delicious pumpkin soup baby — with a kick.

Curry pumpkin soup is a fantastic chilly-weather dish, and when paired with a couple stuffed baby portobellos, it’s filling enough to get you through the night.

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The stuffed portobello mushrooms are supposed to take 20 minutes from start to finish, and the soup is supposed to take 30, but both ended up taking close to an hour. Either way, start with the mushrooms.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, because if it’s anything like my oven, it’ll take nearly 10 minutes to get that far. Next, clean each of the mushrooms with a paper towel or brush under running water. This gets the dirt off the heads better than simply rinsing them. Then put them on a paper towel and take out the stems, since you will be stuffing the caps.

The recipe doesn’t initially call for the stems, but my boyfriend and I decided that we’d rather not waste them when we experimented with this, so we (or rather, he did) chopped them up as finely as possible and put them in a mixing bowl.

Finely chop two green onions and throw them into the bowl. Toss in your cheese and ground Italian sausage as well.

Here’s where it pays to have two sets of hands in the kitchen. While I started working on the soup, my boyfriend finished prepping the mushrooms so the soup and the mushrooms would theoretically be done cooking at the same time.

 

After mixing everything thoroughly, brush a little olive oil on each mushroom head and place them on a shallow baking dish, empty side up. From there, stuff each mushroom with the mixture, as equally as possible.

With the addition of the mushroom stems, you will definitely have overflowing portobellos, but this is ok. Everyone knows that if the mushroom isn’t overflowing, it isn’t stuffed adequately. Be careful when you do this so that you don’t break the caps. When you’re finished, sprinkle the tops of each portobello with more of the Italian blend cheese until you’re satisfied (or run out). Then, place them in the oven for fifteen minutes.

To start the soup, melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat and then stir in your curry powder and flour. This creates a pasty substance that serves as half of your soup base. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll end up throwing twice the butter in because the curry powder and flour will start to burn before you get it into a paste. Then, slowly whisk in your vegetable broth to complete the base. Cook the base down until it thickens.

Or just start stirring in your canned pumpkin puree and half-and-half cream, because honestly, the pumpkin is thick enough to do the trick almost on its own.

Once you’ve got a creamy, smooth mixture, stir in your soy sauce and sugar. Then taste test it.

Your recipe has likely failed you and your pumpkin soup is bland — pleasant, but bland. Where’s the curry-induced kick?

Right about now, your mushroom timer will probably be beeping. Take them out and slice one open. If there’s no pink, you’re good. If there is pink, put it back in the oven for another three minutes. Trust me, there’ll be pink.

Back to the soup, suck it up and dump extra curry in. It’s probably so bland it hurts, and there’s supposed to be a kick. Taste it again. Still too bland? Mine was, so my boyfriend and I tried adding more soy sauce to it. Still, nothing. We weren’t about to cook large quantities of food that neither of us would want to eat, so we tossed some red pepper seasoning in it. Something was still missing. We tossed in generous amounts of salt and pepper, but then the pumpkin flavor was gone.

The oven will probably be beeping again. Chances are, your mushrooms may still be undercooked (we did overstuff them, after all) so toss them back in for another five minutes after checking to make sure.

Your soup has lost its pumpkin flavor but has a little bit more of a kick. What to do? Oh look, there’s pumpkin pie seasoning right there on your stove; grab it and dump a generous amount of it into the soup. You stir it, taste it, and something is still missing. Back to bland, but with more pumpkin than ever? This really shouldn’t be rocket science, but apparently it is.

Try adding more red pepper. Just dump a bunch of it on there. And some more curry. Then, when you realize you’ve probably overpowered the pumpkin flavor again, dump more of that seasoning in there, taste testing it with each new ingredient until you are finally satisfied. By the time you are, your oven will beep again, and this time, your mushrooms will finally be fully cooked.

Two stuffed portobellos and a generous bowl of soup are all you’ll need to fill up. It’s all warm and, once you’ve nailed the soup thing, delicious. The recipes make about six servings each and together, they cost roughly $5.60 a serving (not including the added spices you’ll have laying around). That’s not too shabby, considering that you’ll have butter, green onions, flour, sugar and spices left over to use in other things.

 

Ingredients: Curry Pumpkin Soup

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons curry powder

4 cups vegetable broth

1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin

1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon white sugar

salt and pepper to taste

 

Ingredients: Stuffed Portobellos

1 (9.6-ounce) package ground Italian sausage

2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend, divided

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 green onions, thinly sliced

12 baby portobello mushroom caps

2 tablespoons olive oil