Ecuadorian meals focus heavily on conventional staples like potatoes, meat, poultry, fish, rice and beans. Soup is also a mealtime option, and is typically served for lunch and dinner daily in homes and local restaurants. One of Ecuador's favorite soups is made from a vegetable known as a calabaza, a small green squash shaped like a pumpkin with bright orange flesh. While calabazas can generally be found in Latin American or Caribbean markets in larger cities, you can substitute a standard orange pumpkin to make this flavorful Ecuadorian soup.
Finely chop two medium onions and mince three cloves of garlic on a large cutting board. Roll several sage leaves together and slice thinly until you have enough to equal 1 tbsp. Set aside.
Cut a large, circular hole in a 6 to 7 lb. calabaza or pumpkin around the stem. Scrape out the seeds and inner membrane with a large rigid spoon and discard, and then scrape out enough pumpkin flesh to equal 4 cups. Place the pumpkin on cutting board and coarsely chop the flesh.
Fry six slices of thick-sliced smoked bacon until brown and crispy. Fry it in a large pot or saucepan. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels until cool, then crumble into small pieces.
Add the onion and garlic to the remaining bacon fat in the pot and cook for three to four minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the pumpkin, sage and 4 cups chicken stock, and then sprinkle in salt, freshly ground pepper and hot sauce to taste. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for approximately 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
Puree the mixture until smooth, using an immersion blender.
Add 3 cups half-and-half, 2 to 3 tbsp. dark rum and the bacon to the pureed mixture. Heat the soup until it is hot. Do not boil. Serve immediately.