Aztec Pumpkin Soup


3 lb. broiler-fryer chicken, whole or in parts
3/4 c. walnut halves or pieces
3 T butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts chicken stock
4 c pumpkin, peeled and diced--about a 1/2" to 3/4" dice
1 bag frozen corn
grated Monterey Jack cheese
avocados, diced
fried tortilla strips or Fritos
sunflower seeds

Simmer a 3 lb. broiler-fryer chicken in 3 1/2 quarts of water until done, about 45 minutes.  Cool chicken and strip meat from bones, shredding or chopping into small pieces.  Strain broth. (Note: If I don't have time to make good tasting stock, which I feel takes at least two chicken carcasses and about five hours on the stove top, I will use boxed broth.  And then I might even get a roasted chicken from the grocery store.  Don't tell.)

In a large pot, saute walnuts, onion, and garlic in butter.  Add 3 quarts chicken stock and diced pumpkin.  Simmer until pumpkin is done, about 20 minutes.  Add chicken and frozen corn and season to taste (with salt, pepper, and whatever you like, such as oregano, poultry seasoning, bouquet garni, fines herbes, rosemary, or chili powder and cumin), bringing to a simmer again.

If you're feeling fancy and adorable, and endlessly energetic, hollow out yet another pumpkin to used as a soup tureen.  Have small bowls of condiments to top the soup when you serve--with grated cheese, sunflower seeds, fried tortilla strips, and avocados.

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