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Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Apple Soup for Sarah

Happy birthday luv! xo

It was Sarah's birthday on the weekend and we were finally all together to celebrate with family and friends. 

I asked her what she wanted to eat for her celebration dinner and she said she didn't care as long as she could have pumpkin soup. Pretty simple but there were, however, some conditions:  it had to be healthy soup, no cream, butter, sugar, etc.  

The soup, therefore, had to have lots of natural flavor and the best way to do this was to roast the pumpkin.  This helps to concentrate the flavor by evaporating water and caramelizes its natural sugar.  The other challenge, was the texture.  By adding a little butter and cream, the soup becomes velvety smooth.  I had to find another way to do this.

Roasting the pumpkin worked well and when I began to purée it with the leek, shallot, potato and vegetable stock, I decided to strain it through a fine mesh sieve (normally I don't do this with soup as I like to have a hearty texture).  This took a little time but the result was perfect.  It had that velvety texture without any addition of cream or butter.

So far, this was working out well.  When I tasted it however, I was a little disappointed.  The soup was missing something.  The addition of a little sweetness would help to bring out the pumpkin's natural taste.  A little acidic component does this also.  I had promised I would not add honey or sugar so I really had to think about it.  Normally I would add puréed beets that are naturally sweet but this would ruin the color of the soup which was a beautiful bright orange.  As I looked around the kitchen, I noticed some apples I had bought and decided to try to add a little baked puréed apple.  This did the trick.  I now had some sweetness and acidity to balance the soup out perfectly - all naturally!

I have been told on many occasions that what nature creates at the same time (fruits and vegetables in season) will always go well together.   That makes sense and the stands in the market  are now overflowing with apples and pumpkins. 

I decided to add the smoked cream on the side for those who wanted it and Sarah could have her pumpkin soup just the way she likes it - healthy and natural.

The rest of the birthday menu was glazed ham (on the bone), tri-colored rosemary roasted potatoes and carrot soufflé.  A cheese plate with Cendré de Lune (Pleine Lune) and whiskey cheddar that I just discovered at my great local cheese shop, Fromagerie Atwater and for desert, the Silver Palate carrot cake (the best carrot cake ever).  I will post all these recipes soon!

For the pumpkin soup, you will need:  serves 10-12

  • 2 small 1kg (2 lbs) pumpkins or 1 medium 2kg (4.5lbs) pumpkin
  • 5 tbsp of oil (olive or vegetable)
  • 1 medium leek (275g) white and light green part only, washed and diced (to wash leeks, slice a deep X in the light green part and wash well under running water, see below);
  • 1 large shallot (50g), large dice
  • 1 large potato (200g), peeled and quartered
  • 2 small apples, cored and cut in half (I used Royal Gala)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1.5 l  (6 cups) of vegetable stock
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC);
  2. Wash and dry the pumpkins and cut in half down the middle;
  3. Remove the pulp and seeds from the centre by scraping with a soup spoon (you can keep the seeds to roast them: roasted pumpkin seeds);
  4. Drizzle 4 tbsp of oil over the cut side of the pumpkin and use your fingers to spread it out evenly;
  5. Turn the sliced pumpkin over onto a parchment lined baking sheet;
  6. If you have room on your baking sheet, add the apple halves (cut side down) and roast with the pumpkin - otherwise just roast in another pan;
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until very tender when pierced with a knife;
  8. While the pumpkins are cooking, prepare and cook the other vegetables;
  9. Put 1 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat;
  10. Add the chopped leek (1 medium) and shallot (1 large) and sweat for about 7 minutes (no colour);
  11. Add the vegetable stock (1.5 l), the potato (1 large),  the thyme sprigs (3) and the bay leaf (1) torn in half;
  12. Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer until potato is very tender ;
  13. Take the pumpkin out of the oven and allow to cool (by roasting it like this you will be able to peel it easily by just pulling the skin off);
  14. Put the flesh of 1/2 pumpkin in the blender with half an apple (no need to peel) and a  couple of ladles of vegetables and stock (make sure to remove the thyme and bay leaf);
  15. Purée until very smooth and pour into a fine mesh sieve.  Using a spoon, stir until most of the liquid has been strained and discard the solids that are left;
  16. Continue this process until all the pumpkin and vegetables are puréed and strained;
  17. Adjust seasoning: salt, pepper and little nutmeg (this will add a hint of sweetness too);
  18. Enjoy!  This soup can be frozen.
Happy Thanksgiving! xo

For the Smoked Cream:  makes one cup (as garnish for 10 - 12 servings of soup)

  • 250ml (1 cup) of heavy 35% whipping cream
  • 2 slices of natural smoked bacon
  • pinch of salt

  1. Put the cream (250ml - 1 cup), bacon (2 slices) and salt (pinch) in a small saucepan over medium heat;
  2. Bring to low boil and reduce heat to medium low;
  3. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.  Let cool;
  4. Remove the bacon slices and discard;
  5. Keep the cream in the fridge until ready to serve (it needs to be cold to whip it);
  6. Whip the cream as you would to make whipped cream;
  7. It will thicken to the texture of sour cream or crème fraîche (will not be as light as whipped cream);
  8. Add 1 tbsp as garnish to your soup (it will add a nice subtle smokey flavour);
  9. Place a little greenery on top for decoration (here I used young snow pea shoots);
  10. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth13/10/12

    Yummy! Oh so healthy too :)


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