When Antonia was a wee little girl and “making things from scratch” became a very high priority in my kitchen, San Francisco hippie woman that I was, I decided that November was Master Pie Crust month. And I made pie crusts over and over until I could make one half asleep in minutes. That little game I played with myself has served me for decades. And apparently this fall has been All About Pumpkins and I am learning as much as I can. And the most important discovery I have made, as someone who has wanted the perfect Pumpkin Soup Recipe for years, is that the secret is not the recipe. The secret is the kind of pumpkin. Who knew? And what I have learned through all these weeks of pumpkin and winter squash learning and sharing is that the very best pumpkin to use for pumpkin soup bears the unlikely name Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, an heirloom variety, which supposedly is/was commonly grown on Long Island. (Would love to hear the stories, if you know them!) As I don’t recall ever seeing a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin in any kind of store, ever, nor had I ever heard of one before this summer, I’m not too sure how likely it will be that you can find one, other than at your local farmer’s markets. You may have to grow one. I have poked around and I think you will have no trouble finding the heirloom seeds. I’m partial to all things Baker Creek Seed Company, so here’s their link. Plan early! And, boy, are you gonna be glad!
So, first I’m going to post a refresher course on how to easily make pumpkin puree, and then I’m going to show you how to make fabulous pumpkin soup in, oh, say, five minutes. Really.
First you grab an apple corer and poke two holes in the top of your pumpkin. Place in a large pot of water. Let the water come to a soft boil and cook until a fork is readily able to pierce your pumpkin. Then, flip it so the top is also cooked thoroughly. (This is the only tricky part of this process. You might ask someone to hold the pot in place while you turn over the pumpkin.) This won’t take long.
Once the pumpkin is cooked, pour off the water. Then simply cut it across twice. [Please excuse this slightly out of focus pic! I promise to replace next time I make this, which will be soon!] Let it cool.
Once the pumpkin is cool, peel off the skin, which you will discover is very intact and readily peels off. It’s not like what you are expecting. And recycle the seeds. This is what you will have. Look at this color!! I think this is Food at Its Best. It just screams I Am So Good For You! And it is utterly delicious.
Then put the flesh in batches into your food processer and puree. Look at this rich spun gold! I’m rather astounded this is the color of what emerges inside a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. But that’s what you get! #LOVE
Now. What I do is measure out the puree into portions of 2 cups and freeze what I’m not going to yet use. I feel fantastic knowing I have this on hand in my freezer for winter, for soups and pies and breads. I set aside two cups for my easy soup recipe.
I don’t know about you, but I am so busy that finding time to cook is a bit of an effort sometimes. I really like having certain things prepared and on hand at any given moment. On that list are fresh scones in the freezer, cold green tea, rice for the doggies, some form of salad all made up (e.g., cole slaw or grated dressed beets) and, hopefully, at this time of year, a yummy soup. So this fits the bill.
I poured some olive oil in a heavy pan, and sauteed half an onion and two cloves of garlic I had processed beforehand in the Cuisinart. I made a point of cooking the onion slowly and thoroughly. Then I added two cups of free range chicken broth. (I cheated because this is an Easy Recipe and “easy” in this case means chicken broth from the health food store.) I let that heat up a bit, and then poured in the two cups of pumpkin puree. Like this.
I added salt and white pepper to taste. And then I added a cup of cream. And I served this delicious, simple, nutritious soup with sour dough bread and a glass of green tea. What a fantastic cold weather luncheon! This soup would also make a wonderful starter course for Thanksgiving or Christmas that would not require much time! I think I’d add a dollop of sour cream or perhaps some chopped parsley or scallions for the holidays before serving, wouldn’t you?
And I will store the balance of the soup knowing There Is Soup in the frig, a comforting thought. You know? Yes, you do.
Love and kitchen blessings,
Book News: Western North Carolina Woman has just published an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy here. If you visiting this blog from the beautiful NC mountains, you might appreciate knowing that Malaprop’s has copies of my book! Also, a wonderful review of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy has just been published on Examiner.com.
As you are planning Christmas giving, remember that you may order copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy directly from Estrella Catarina, and that shipping is free, as is giftwrapping!
Posted on November 5th, 2012 by Kathryn
Filed under: Plants