Posted by: acooksca | 04/02/2009

PUMPKIN SOUP

PUMPKIN SOUP                                                        serves 6-8

At the Medieval hearth a pumpkin would be buried in the embers at the end of the evening and slowly bake there all sugar-pumpkin-1anight. The pumpkin, seeds removed, was filled with cream, old bread, preserving spices and cheese. In the morning the still warm pumpkin pulp would be carved away from the sides and stirred into the other ingredients to form a thick porridge.

Through years of trying such recipes I have learned to modernize the recipe and omit the embers. Baking a whole, filled pumpkin is a dangerous adventure. They must have had a very thick skinned variety hundreds of years ago. A present-day pumpkin often collapses in the oven. If the shell holds together once cooked, it caves in as you carve away the meat. If all goes astoundingly well and you preserve the whole pumpkin as a terrine, I have found the soup lacks the pumpkin flavor it would have if you used every bit of flesh.

Our commercially grown pumpkins, even when you search out a Sugar Pie Pumpkin, are full of moisture in the flesh. Both the flavor and texture of the soup are enhanced by adding a garnet yam. But do find a Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Pumpkins destined for decoration are tasteless and watery. Canned pumpkin would be preferable to Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin.

4-5 lb. Sugar Pie Pumpkin (not a standard Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin)
1 large garnet yam
1 quart chicken broth or stock
½ pint heavy cream
2 cups cubed crust-less bread, such as French or Italian
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
Large pinch ground clove
½ lb. Grated cheese: choose an aged Swiss such as Appenzeller or Gruyere style

Put oven at 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin into 6 wedges and clean out the seeds and threads. Cut the yam into halves. Place these on a baking sheet with ½ inch water and bake until tender (45-50 min.). Cool to handle. Peel the pumpkin and yam and cut into small cubes. In a large, heavy pot place the pumpkin, yam and all ingredients except the cheese. Liquid should just cover the solids. If not, add more stock or water.

Over med.-low heat, bring soup to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring often to prevent sticking. Simmer ½ hour. Cool slightly. Puree the soup with a stick blender or a food processor. Soup should be thick… a porridge consistency. Taste to correct the seasoning.

To serve, layer soup and the grated cheese in individual bowls or layer them in a hollowed out pumpkin to serve as a terrine. In this case, pour very hot water into the pumpkin to heat and sterilize the inside for several minutes before pouring in the hot soup. You can use a Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin as the terrine.

Serves 6 as main and 8 as first course

Originally published in Farmstead Cheese News by Karen Bolla, edited for A Cook’s California (A Cook’s CA)  by Karen Bolla.

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