Pumpkin-Tomato Soup: Chow Bella Pumpkin Showdown

Categories: Chow Bella

Katie Johnson
Hey, Campbell's, move over.
From time to time, Chow Bella's contributors challenge one another to a showdown: Make the best dish you can, using one common ingredient. This time (naturally), it was pumpkin. For the next few weeks, we'll be sharing the results, and at the end, we'll let you know who won.

Today: resident bartender and Guilty Pleasures columnist JK Grence.

I was excited to hear about another Chow Bella showdown. I love getting to play around in the kitchen and come up with something new. For the pumpkin challenge, I figured that there would be tons of sweet dishes. So, I decided to take the savory route.

I'm going to let you in on one of my favorite ways to play with my food. It's a little website called Foodpairing. Some Belgian scientists realized that foods that have similar flavor compounds in them tend to pair together well. They put foods in gas chromatography to find out the flavor compounds. The result of their efforts is the Foodpairing website.

See also: Country Velador of Cowboy Ciao: Pie Social Celebrity Bakers 2013

Sometimes the combinations are classic. For example, tomatoes pair well with bell peppers and cucumber. Anyone with a lick of familiarity with Spanish cuisine would recognize those veggies as the base of good gazpacho. But sometimes the combinations are a surprise. For example, Foodpairing says that fresh tomatoes pair exceptionally well with . . . cinnamon cookies. Weird, right? I had to try it. I took a slice of tomato, and put it on a Trader Joe's cinnamon graham cracker. The result was astonishingly delicious.

It turns out that there's another ingredient that goes well with tomatoes: Pumpkin. Who knew? And of course, pumpkin and cinnamon go hand-in-hand. My first thought was to make pumpkin-tomato soup. I turned to several resources, but found the recipes from America's Test Kitchen to look the best. To get the cinnamon-spice flavor, I turned to one of my favorite guilty pleasure items, Biscoff Spread. To give a little smoky dimension, I made croutons laced with Spanish smoked paprika.

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