Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perfect Pumpkin Soup

Though while this weekend's weather wasn't exactly... well, soup weather, I have been craving a creamy, cinnamon-y, pumpkin bisque soup flavored just like one I used to buy at The Vinegar Factory, when I lived on the Upper East Side.

Saturday's 67 degree weather was totally unexpected--planning a long run out (and around) Prospect Park from DUMBO, I layered on what I had been wearing the day before when I went out for a romp in Red Hook. Yeah... didn't need the Patagonia fleece, silly. So, 9.4 miles later (didn't anticipate that mileage, especially considering I've only been doing 5 or 6 miles first thing in the morning about 2x a week), all I could think about was creamy pumpkin soup with the last of my Salvatore Bklyn ricotta, and candied spiced pumpkin seeds...

Of course, I didn't have any cream in the house, so the soup had to wait til Sunday. Of course, I made the soup, and ate the last of the ricotta, and it wasn't until I sat down to edit my recipe that I realized I left the candied pumpkin seeds in the oven (thankfully the oven was off--they're just drying). So, there will be two images below--soup and ricotta, and then soup and pumpkin seeds. Just goes to show how tired my brain is by the end of the week...

Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Candied Pumpkin Seeds

For the soup:
1 small pumpkin, about 2 pounds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 small carrots (I had some heirloom varieties in my fridge that needed using; you could use 2)
1 stalks celery (again, finishing off the stalk that needed consumption; you could use 1)
2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh sage
Cinnamon, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2/3 cup heavy cream (you can add more or less depending on your taste)

For the pumpkin seeds:
Seeds from the pumpkin
1 teaspoon olive oil
Cinnamon sugar to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper

For the soup:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half through the center, and season both insides with salt and pepper. Place each half on a lightly oiled baking pan, cut side down. Bake for 45 minutes, or until flesh is tender when pricked with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over high heat, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the chopped carrots, and chopped celery. Season with salt and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

When the pumpkin is ready, let it cool for 30 minutes, the add the flesh to the vegetables. Add the stock, then bring to a boil over high heat. Add the sage and cook 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Remove from heat, remove the sage, and puree until smooth with an immersion blender. Add the cream and stir well. Check the seasonings, adding more salt or spices as needed.

For the pumpkin seeds:

Rinse the seeds well and strain them. Toss with the oil, sugar, and spice and place on a baking sheet. Cook these while the pumpkin roasts , tossing them every 5 minutes to allow the moisture to evaporate and the seeds to candy. When the begin to turn golden, and are crispy (no longer chewy), remove and let them cool, about 30 minutes.

Serve the soup warm with fresh ricotta. I also like topping it with crisp bacon lardons and caramelized apples; a slice or two of prosciutto on the bottom (so the fat melts) of the bowl is also a wonderful salty-rich addition. Oh, and don't forget your spiced candied pumpkin seeds like me...

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