What We Used to Eat: Decolonize Your Diet highlights the nutritional power of ancestral foods
Interview and Illustrations by Margo Rivera-Weiss
Adapted from Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing
Calvo and Esquibel call this soup “alchemy” because the ingredients make magic together. Rich and creamy, it is a perfect soup for winter months. Chipotle adds a smoky note, but use only a little (even if you think you’re tough). Cinnamon adds flavor complexity and helps regulate blood glucose levels.
Makes 6 servings
1 7-pound cooking pumpkin or winter squash (or 3 15-ounce cans pumpkin purée)
1 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1–2 tablespoons chipotle en adobo (homemade or canned), minced
1 cinnamon stick, preferably Ceylon or canela Mexicana
4–6 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
¼ cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon maple syrup
6 leaves cilantro
½ cup Cashew Crema (optional)
Bake pumpkin or squash at 350° until soft (about 40 minutes), then peel, seed, and chop.
In a large pot on medium-high heat, sauté onions in oil for 5–6 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1 tablespoon chipotle en adobo. Stir to combine and cook 1 minute more. Add pumpkin, cinnamon stick, vegetable stock, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes.
In a dry frying pan on high heat toast pumpkin seeds until they start to puff up or turn brown, about 3 minutes. Remove pumpkin seeds from pan and set aside.
Remove cinnamon stick from soup and purée soup until creamy with an immersion blender. (If using a regular blender, work in batches and be very careful with the hot liquid.) If soup is too thick, add water a little at a time. Return soup to pot and add lime juice and maple syrup. Taste and adjust seasonings. For a spicier soup, add more chipotle en adobo. Adjust levels of spice, salt, acid, and sweet until soup has the perfect balance between these elements. (Cooking is magic and alchemy.) Serve in bowls, each garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds, a cilantro leaf, and Cashew Crema.
A satisfying, healthy vegan alternative to cheese, this cream has the consistency of Mexican crema, a tangy loose sour cream that is a popular topping on Mexican dishes. We recommend Cashew Crema in many of our recipes as a vegan alternative to queso cotija and queso fresco. Put some into a squeeze bottle and add as a last-minute garnish to any vegan dish.
Makes 1 cup
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed well
½ cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Scrape sides often. Keeps refrigerated 3–4 days.