Simple Pumpkin Soup

Here’s my inspiration (as usual, found at Epicurious), as well as my personal editing (I’m taking out these parts of the published recipe, and adding in these parts), based on what I actually have on hand:

Very Simple Pumpkin Soup
Bon Appétit October 2001

Ingredients:

  • 2 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin 4½ cups pumpkin puree made last week
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 3 garlic cloves, pressed minced
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder* some combination of spices from the cabinet: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and a touch of cayenne
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced crumbled feta

Preparation:
Melt a bit of the butter in a large saucepan and sauté garlic until fragrant. Add Bring first 4 3 ingredients and bring to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. If your homemade pumpkin puree simply refuses to whisk into a smooth consistency as it’s obviously meant to do in this recipe, it’s probably fine to pull out that immersion blender you got for Christmas a few years ago and blend the clumps out. Whisk in syrup, 2 tablespoons butter, and five spices powder. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. (Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.) Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with feta; mushrooms, dividing equally; serve.
* A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

As you can see, I changed the order of preparation (what recipe isn’t better if you sauté some garlic to begin), substituted some ingredients with items I had in the house, and totally changed the garnish since I don’t have any mushrooms on hand.

The Verdict:
I’m trying to keep an open mind, considering how far I strayed from the recipe. This soup is a little on the sweet side for me, which I think is intended to be balanced by the savory garnish of mushrooms. Even imagining the earthy flavor of shiitakes paired with this rather than the sharper flavor of feta, I don’t think that would quite overcome the sweet factor. Now, please keep in mind before you try this recipe: I don’t like sweets. I like my coffee black with a topping of whipped cream, I like my scones savory, I like my chocolate as dark as it comes. I’ll often skip dessert not because of any diet but because I would rather eat French fries than cake. My ideal pastries all involve lots of butter and not much sugar. So please take my critique as completely biased – some of you may love the balance of sweet and savory in this recipe exactly as written. It is still a really nice soup even if it is sweeter than I would like.

Here’s what I’ll do in the future: first off, there will be leftovers of this soup on the menu this week, so I’ll be buying some mushrooms for that. For next time (I do have 6 squash sitting in my kitchen, and I’m likely to get more each week for the next five weeks), I will likely sauté onions or shallots first, and then add in the garlic to build a stronger savory base for this recipe. I think that a combination of water and chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to keep this ovo-lacto) would also add some depth to the flavor. I’ll also cut back a bit on the syrup, depending on how sweet the particular squash I’m using is. I think that I’ll also serve some sort of savory roll on hand as an accompaniment – maybe a rosemary dinner roll, for example. I think with these modifications, this soup will become a staple food for Travis and I in the autumn (and heck, I’ve got 6 cups of frozen puree from this same pumpkin, so we could probably make this recipe again and again, only running out of puree next spring when our local farmers’ markets start giving us fresh options again)!

Here’s what it would turn into:

Melissa’s Simple Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Bon Appétit October 2001

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • ½ cup shallots or onions, chopped fine
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced or put through the garlic press
  • 4½ cups home-made pumpkin (or other squash) puree
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half or whole milk
  • 1-2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • some combination of spices from the cabinet: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and a touch of cayenne; whatever you like
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake (or other) mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
  • Crumbled feta (optional)

Preparation:
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan and sauté onion or shallots until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add pumpkin puree, water, broth and milk and bring to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. If your homemade puree simply refuses to whisk into a smooth consistency as it’s obviously meant to do in this recipe, it’s probably fine to pull out that immersion blender you got for Christmas a few years ago and blend the clumps out. Whisk in syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, and spices. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. (Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.) Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with mushrooms, and feta if using, dividing equally; serve.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: