My goodness where did the week go? I feel as if long weekends make for hectic weeks, which are short, but so packed with activities, I wind up being more exhausted. I know I shouldn’t complain about getting Monday off. Who complains about that? Surely, my mind is not in the right place. Having Monday off allowed me to have a lovely morning, coffee with a friend and I was able to cook dinner for two wonderful friends, Paul and Sharon, who recently got engaged. But more on that later. That’s a whole separate post right there.
Paul happens to be one of those poor souls who had to work on Monday and so were he to read my lamentations above, would not take too kindly to such sentiment. I’m sure he would have traded my day for his, culinary adventures and all.
This dinner was really a way to rescue some of my produce that started to look droopy and sad. This happens a lot in Sassy Radish kitchen. I get very excited about the beautiful fruits and vegetables I see at my neighborhood grocer, stock up, and then… life sort of happens and before you know it, it’s been five whole days and my turnips are looking mushy, herbs are turning that brownish green and carrots going limp. In this case, it was a pumpkin I had bought a few weeks before, excited that fresh pumpkin was still lying around, even though Halloween was long gone and forgotten.
I brought this pumpkin home, and even named him Stanley (a perfectly respectable name for a pumpkin, no?), but I failed to have a plan for it. For awhile it served as a lovely fall-nostalgic centerpiece, but then I put it in the refrigerator fearing it might go rancid. And so, the time to make this pumpkin had come. And while I entertained many a recipe for Stanley to shine in, nothing truly stuck out.
That is until I saw this recipe just browsing and immediately everything clicked in its place. And let me tell you, this soup is both comforting and sexy. It’s fuzzy slippers and sleek stilettos wrapped in one, and I’m not trying to tell you that this soup looks like a shoe and feels like a sneaker. It simply has qualities of both. The cooked down pumpkin is soft, comforting and nourishing. The kind of thing you’d want after a long day in the office. But the spices give it the kind of sophistication that elevate this soup from every day to something special. And look, with only half a cup of cream used in the whole batch, it’s still a healthy meal. See how good I am to you? Now, go ahead, get that dessert you know you really want – the soup more than makes up for it.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse & the Food Network
1 (2 pound) pumpkin, halved and seeds removed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 plus a pinch freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil (I didn’t have this so omitted)
15 to 20 small sage leaves, fried (I went more Indian route and added fresh cilantro and spiced pumpkin seeds, recipe coming for that)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the pumpkin cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Invert to the cut side down, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place in the oven and roast until the skin is golden brown and the pumpkin is tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the pumpkin flesh from its skin and set pumpkin aside until ready to use. Discard the skin.
3. Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and, when hot, add the cinnamon and allspice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the onions, carrots, celery, ginger and garlic to the pan and saute, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and reserved pumpkin to the pan and bring the stock to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook the soup for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
4. Remove the soup from the heat and process with an immersion blender (*or in batches in a blender) until smooth. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper. Add the cream to the soup and stir to combine.
5. To serve, place 1 cup of the soup in each of 6 warmed soup bowls. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of the pumpkin seed oil in the bowl and garnish with a 2 or 3 fried sage leaves.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.