I’ve been one hell of a Betty Crocker this weekend! It used to be that I did the majority of my most creative cooking when I was upset; it seems that I’ve turned a page and now can try some creative stuff just when I feel curious. Not only did I can seven more jars of hot pepper jelly (leaving seeds in this time around to make a jelly with more kick as requested by a couple of people), I also baked two loaves of zucchini bread (a first for me, made with a huge garden grown zucchini) and made a soup that harks to the coming of fall.
We grew a large pumpkin in the garden, so I asked a very creative culinary friend of mine the burning question: What can I make with pumpkin? The looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said very simply, “Pumpkin soup.” Being as I’ve never had pumpkin soup, or butternut squash soup for that matter, I found this both intriguing and a bit of a challenge. I asked how one goes about making such a soup; he told me to roast the pumpkin with olive oil and salt and when finished, purée it to prep it. I figured this would be a long process, but once I had cut and removed all of the pumpkin’s guts, it was very simple: drizzle and roast. The roasted pumpkin came out of the oven sizzling with an earthy aroma and a rich orange color.
I allowed it to cool a few minutes and scooped the soft pumpkin flesh (ew, flesh) with a spoon into a bowl, leaving only the skin to dispose of. Then, I scooped the soft, roasted pumpkin into a food processor and blended until it was puréed.
I turned the pumpkin soup experiment into a two-day event because I waited until fairly late Saturday night to roast and after my second glass of Perrin Nature Cotes Du Rhone I was in no frame of mind to finish making soup. Today, my mind clear and unaffected by copious amounts of deliciously rich Cotes Du Rhone, I completed the task.
After scooping the puréed pumpkin into a big, cast iron dutch oven I added half a cup of water and about two cups of chicken broth, stirring to dilute the pumpkin. My friend had said all I really needed for this to work was chicken stock or broth, cream and spices, so I figured even if this experiment went awry, I could say I’d made the attempt. I relied heavily on my taste buds and after adding cream ( I have no idea how much, because I just poured until the consistency was smooth and somewhat thin), I added cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, salt and sugar (again, I failed to measure) and stirred until all spices were well mixed.
I chose to thinly slice a few baby carrots and finely dice a medium sized white onion from the garden and saute with a large pad of butter and chicken broth until the carrots were soft to the touch and the onions were translucent, and then added both to the pumpkin and spices. I remembered a friend making and incredible tomato bisque for me, and him using a blender to combine herbs and spices thoroughly while giving the soup a tremendously smooth texture, so I employed the same technique to introduce my sautéed vegetables. After tasting, I was thrilled at the outcome! It was rich and smooth and the blended carrots and onions added a fantastic earthy flavor to the hearty soup.
After this experiment, I fully intend to try my hand at more soups this fall and winter and now I know that while soup making is slightly labor intensive, it’s totally worth it.
Since I seem to be turning into a regular culinary queen, there will be more to come!