Monday, November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Soup w/ Savory Whipped Cream

That, right there, is a big bowl of delicious. As you can probably tell, I've been making a lot of soup lately. This pumpkin soup, however, is hands down the best. I don't think it would quite cut it as a meal on its own, but it is an impressive starter for company or an otherwise boring meal. And it is really easy. (My friend Taylor pointed out that I say everything I make is really easy. But that's because it is!) The nutmeg and ginger bring out the flavor of the pumpkin, and the cream cheese with the sautéed onion and leek round out the soup. The savory whipped cream and roasted pumpkin seeds are a perfect topping and make it look that much prettier, but if you don't have the time/inclination/spare calories feel free to skip this step. The soup will still taste great. I don't know where I'm eating Thanksgiving dinner yet, but this will definitely be making its way to my (or my host's) table.

Before the recipe, a few words to the wise: Make sure you adequately salt the soup. The first time I made it, I used low sodium chicken broth and didn't realize how much salt I had to add to compensate.

And a note about the sugar pumpkin: to get 2 pounds of pumpkin chunks you need a three to four pound pumpkin--which is not that big, about the size of your head. Unless your head is really big. You also need a really good peeler for the pumpkin skin. If your peeler is dinky, you're going to have to use a paring knife. I've done it both ways, but Nic was anticipating a trip to the ER when I used the paring knife. He went out and bought a good peeler soon thereafter.

Pumpkin Soup
Makes 8 servings, as a starter

olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 leek (white only), thinly sliced
2 lbs. (about 6 cups) sugar pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cream cheese
3/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

savory whipped cream topping
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
pinch of salt
pinch of ginger
pinch of nutmeg
roasted pumpkin seeds

-Heat enough olive oil to sauté onion and leek in a large pot. When the oil is hot, sauté onion and leek for about 5 minutes or until they start to become translucent.
-Add the pumpkin chucks and the chicken broth. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
-This is a good time to salt the pumpkin seeds you removed from your pumpkin and put them in the oven on 450 degrees for 5-10 minutes to roast.
-Remove the soup from the heat. (If you want a thick soup, remove a cup of the broth before continuing.*) Stir in cream cheese, ginger and nutmeg. The cream cheese won't completely dissolve, but don't worry, the blender will take care of it.
-Blend the soup in batches until all of it is blended. Stir it all together and taste. Add additional salt, ginger and nutmeg to taste.
-To make the savory whipped cream, first whip the heavy cream with a hand or stand mixer (or a whisk and some upper body strength) until it thickens into the consistency of... well whipped cream, of course. Fold in the sour cream, salt, ginger and nutmeg.
-Top bowls of soup with a dollop of the savory whipped cream and roasted pumpkin seeds.

* I left all 6 cups of broth in when I made my soup. But why not just use 5 cups to begin with if you want thick soup? Because, at least in my pot, it wouldn't cover the pumpkin.

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