Monday, October 29, 2012

Cream of Pumpkin Soup


     I hate to admit this, but I am not a big Halloween fan.  I love Thanksgiving, love Fall but if Halloween disappeared, it really would not bother me one bit.  The other dear members of my family do not share my sentiment.

     With the holiday fast approaching and Dear Husband leaving for the States, the all important yearly ritual of carving pumpkins had to take place last Friday evening.  I raced home from school (yes, I worked that day!) and began prepping the three pumpkins.  By the time that the rest of the family arrived home, I had three pumpkins that were ready to be carved.  Given that Dear Daughter cannot yet carve a pumpkin, I wondered how long she would be interested in the event.

    What occurred that evening was another "save-it" family memory.  We turned our kitchen into Halloween Party Central.  Music blared through the IPAD and we munched on snacks while contemplating our designs.  Dear Daughter cleaned the seeds and, on her own, made three different batches of roasted pumpkin seeds. We voted on our favorites just before digging into our Chinese takeout dinner.  They were all delicious and we had a marvelous family experience.  On top of that, we now have some killer carved pumpkins.  Maybe Halloween isn't so bad after all...

     With Dear Husband departed for the U.S. early Saturday morning, we were left feeling a little empty inside.  The day was miserable; it was dark, dreary, cold and at times snowing.  Frankly, you could not have asked for better "couch" weather.  Upon arriving home from the airport, we quickly changed into our "slug" clothes, cooked up a batch of pumpkin soup and spent the rest of the day on the couch.  We watched the first race of the World Cup skiing season, recent movies and television shows that we normally cannot see over here.  The best part...we refused to feel guilty about it.  I think that we both needed the break and the bonding time.  We knew that the sun would be out on Sunday.  We knew that homework would still be there on Sunday.  We knew that the "To Do" list would still be there on Sunday.  For one glorious afternoon, we lived in comfortable clothes, nestled under blankets, munched on popcorn and watched enough TV to make our eyes pop out.  AND IT WAS AWESOME!

     But let's discuss the pumpkin soup or kurbiscreme suppe as they call it over here.  While I have made pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, I have never actually cooked with fresh pumpkin.  While I have made soup with butternut squash, I have never used pumpkin.  While at the grocery store, I found something called Speise Kurbis - which is literally Food Pumpkins.  Armed with two of them, I decided to try making pumpkin soup.  Call it beginners luck, but it was fantastic and incredibly easy to make.

Pumpkin Cream Soup and the winner of Dear Daughter's Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Competition

Pumpkin Soup:

1/2 large onion, finely diced
4 cups or so of fresh pumpkin, cut into huge chunks  (remember that you have to clean out the center and separate the "meat" from the skin.  With the pumpkins that I chose, the skin was really hard making this the most difficult part of the dish)
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of Nutmeg
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and sauté the onions for five minutes.  Add the fresh pumpkin and cook at medium heat for five to eight minutes.   Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the pumpkin is quite soft, about 20 - 25 minutes.

Carefully transfer the soup in batches to a blender and puree.   Return the soup to the pot. Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender, that would be the best thing to use.

Add the cream and mix and gently reheat.  Do not let it come to a boil.  Serve with roasted pumpkin seeds on top as garnish.

The Roasted Pumpkin Seed Winner:

Combine two cups of clean pumpkin seeds to a bowl and mix in 2 T of melted butter, 2T Worcestershire  sauce, 1 T brown sugar, two drops of Tobasco, salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and roast in a 300 degree oven for 45 minutes until crisp (turning frequently).

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