Fairy Tale Pumpkin Soup

One of the best things about fall and winter are the soups.  This is it: soup season.  Especially in New

England, where the change of the seasons is felt with every passing day, and the need for warm and hearty soups is a daily necessity.  Soups can be meals of their own, and can highlight the hard winter squashes and otherwise un-exciting late season produce.

We seem to love pumpkins, in the same way we love butternut squash and orange garnet yams and sweet potatoes.  Mixed with wonderful spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, roasting and cooking pumpkins can embody everything we enjoy about fall and winter cooking.

The problem, of course, is that working with pumpkins can be messy and time consuming.  The best way around choosing the right pumpkins for the job.  The right pumpkin will also produce the best soup.  Long Island cheese pumpkins are the best.  When cooked, they have the deepest color, richest flavor and have the most sugar.  More convenient, and easier to find are varietals such as fairy tale and sugar pumpkins.  All of which are smaller, easier to break down and scoop, and produce sweet and richly colored final products.

This particular recipe is fairly easy.  The basic method can be applied to any hard winter squashes, sweet potatoes or even regular potatoes (think baked potato soup garnished with crisp bacon).  Most important is patience.  Let each addition of liquid reduce properly.  Take the time to completely roast the pumpkin.  Make the effort to puree the soup as smooth as possible, and strain the soup to remove any grit.  Each step is important in producing a wonderful, deeply colored, and fragrant final product.  And believe me, the final product is amazing.  I used to serve this soup in restaurants during holiday menus, and without fail, it was always a success.

Fairy Tale Pumpkin Soup

Yield:  1/2 gallon finished product
Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  3 hours

Ingredients:

2 small long island pumpkins, or two fairy tail pumpkins
1 large yellow onion, rough chop
vegetable oil
1/2 bunch sage
1 inexpensive bottle of dry white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 cups heavy heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
2 ribs celery, rough chop

Method:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the pumpkins into quarters and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Lightly toss the pumpkins with oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender and slightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temp.  Scoop out the pumpkin away from the skin and reserve.  Discard the skins.

In a medium sized heavy bottom stock pot, add a little more oil and being sweating the onions and celery.  When fragrant, add the cooked pumpkin to the pot and mix well.  Let cook together over medium heat until well incorporated.  Add the wine, sage, thyme, all the spices and a little salt and pepper.  Turn heat to medium high and let reduce.  Reduce until thick, but not sticking to the bottom.  Add the vegetable stock, sugar and syrup and reduce again.  This time, only reduce by 1/3.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

Working in batches, puree the soup with a bar blender until very smooth.  Press the soup through a fine strainer to remove any grit.  Return the soup to a clean pot, bring to a simmer and add the cream.  Cook over medium low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Reseason with salt and pepper (the soup will probably require a heavy amount of salt).

Serve right away in warm bowls.

Best served with maple whipped creme fraiche and toasted pepitas.

Enjoy.

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