By Heather McGreevy
When I joined Food Bank, I knew I'd have the opportunity to help repack at our Warehouse, prep meals at our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry, and lend a hand at some of our member agencies throughout the city. But one thing I never expected to do was to serve as a taste tester.
During the winter months, pureed pumpkin is a hot ticket at food pantries. So it's no surprise that our member charities would offer their clients a recipe for it, specifically pumpkin pudding. But when we learned that the sugar content for the pudding recipe was too high, our nutrition team was tasked with coming up with a healthier alternative. The catch? The new recipe needed to have a quick prep time and clients had to be able to make it with ingredients available at a pantry. Jennifer Horan, a Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables nutritionist at Food Bank, had not one, but three recipes up her sleeve.
In her quest to find a nutritious way to use pumpkin puree, Jennifer had come up with three different pumpkin soups. She invited me and a few other Food Bankers for a taste test. We would give each version a try and vote on our favorite. My first thought: How different can pumpkin soups be? Quite different, it turns out--and delicious. After the first spoonful I was blown away. I had met the pumpkin soup-making queen! Jennifer made three incredible soups, each with a different flavor profile. Curried pumpkin soup? Hand it over! Pumpkin soup spiced with cumin? Give me more! Creamy pumpkin soup with a hint of cinnamon? Call me a convert! Jennifer wowed us with her ability to take simple, low-cost ingredients and turn them into something delicious and nutritious.
Did I think I'd wind up as a soup taster when I came to work at Food Bank? No way. Am I glad I got to experience firsthand one of the best things we do at Food Bank--bring good, healthy food to New Yorkers in need? Absolutely!
Want to taste the winner for yourself? Here's the recipe we voted #1:
Creamy Pumpkin Soup with a Hint of Cinnamon
*If using nonfat dried milk (NFDM), mix 1 1/2 cups water with 1/2 cup NFDM and add to recipe.
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
- 1 ½ cups low-fat milk*
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- In a large pot, heat ¼ cup chicken broth over medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic and brown sugar. Cook until soft, stirring often.
- Add the rest of the broth, ½ cup water, salt and pepper. Turn up heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring often.
- Turn down heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in pumpkin, milk and cinnamon. Cook for 5 more minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
Makes 4 servings.
Heather McGreevy is the Volunteer Engagement Manager at Food Bank For New York City.