Sometimes, I just don't have the time to post. There are other times where I wish I could let you know how awesome/brilliant/funny my friends are. This time it's both. I have a week's worth of photo shoots plus prep for a shoot this weekend going on and just don't have the daylight hours to tell you all about our dinner party. Plus, my friend Jen is so rockin' (and she writes for a living so this is a no-brainer) that I'm thrilled to have her tell you how she came about the pumpkin soup she made to start off our dinner party this past weekend. Thanks to Broderick at Savory Exposure for the above photo. Tune in at the end of the week for dessert details. Cheers!This October I’ve had pumpkin on the brain. It would probably be weirder if this weren’t the case as every food site I like to check out has featured some form of pumpkin recipe. From muffins to pastas to baked casseroles – even Starbucks busts out the Pumpkin Spice latte this month, which, now really, think about that one. It’s squash coffee! Go lowly pumpkin for being on everyone’s mind and in so many recipes this time of year!
So all this leads to the last time I was at the grocery store. Which, sidebar: I hate grocery shopping. A lot. So whenever I find an item I think I could maybe possibly use that isn’t perishable I grab it. Which explains the odd items that hang out in my pantry (hello 4 bottles of molasses), but that’s a whole other story. The relevant bit here is that when I saw the end cap display with cans of organic pumpkin (and importantly, not pumpkin pie filling) I grabbed a couple cans and went on my way.
For the next few days I kept thinking and thinking about those cans of pumpkin in my pantry. What delicious recipe would I use them in? I was stumped, so I bought Mexican Pumpkin Spice candles from World Market and that calmed me for a few days. Then I bought one of those dang lattes and decided it was gross and I really was going to have to get my pumpkin food item fix by making something myself.
Around this time my husband and I got a dinner invite for the upcoming weekend from the lovely Tami and her sweetie and I offered to bring a course to the party. Somehow I zeroed in on Pumpkin Soup. That would be a great first course offering to compliment the pork loin and Brussels sprouts that Tami would be making for the main course.
So I began my search and boy let me tell ya, there are a ton of pumpkin soup recipes out there. The key for me was finding one that was basic enough that the pumpkin shone through as the main flavor but was also focused on earthy warm flavors. I ran from anything that was Thai pumpkin or complicated to the point it should be the entrée itself. I landed in an obvious place: Rachael Ray, the lady who really taught me how to cook.
That’s another long story, but the short version is: when I first moved in with my husband (then boyfriend) 6 years ago, I realized I was responsible for feeding someone besides myself for the first time and it was someone who’s opinion I really valued. Thanks to 30 Minute Meals simplicity and Rachael’s method of explaining how to cut an onion every time she does it – I slowly got into cooking. So however cheesy she might be, I’ve got love for Rachael (and at least 1 of her cookbooks.)This was the recipe I settled on: Pumpkin Soup with Chili-Cran-Apple Relish.
I followed the instructions and sure enough 30 minutes later I had pumpkin soup. One problem: It was bland to the point of tasting like warm cream to me. This was also about the time we should’ve been leaving for the dinner party. So I freaked and went straight to my favorite un-bland-this-shiz ingredient. I added about a 4th a teaspoon of cayenne and we were getting somewhere.In the original recipe, Rachael calls for 2 teaspoons of dried poultry seasoning or dried thyme. I happened to have fresh thyme on hand and used about 4 or 5 teaspoons of that since it would be so much milder that dried herbs. Well, I threw that good intention out the window and additionally threw in about 3-4 teaspoons of dried poultry seasoning. Finally my soup was starting to taste like something.
I love the consistency of this soup. Because the canned pumpkin is so finely processed, it’s not too viscous like a lot of squash soups I’ve had. I helped this along by using an immersion blender to get the onion and celery more blended before adding the cream.
I made the relish that the recipe calls for with one substitution, I didn’t have dried cranberries, but I did have raisins and they matched beautifully with the remixed soup.
Now for the final tweak/secret ingredient. Rachel asks you to grate some fresh nutmeg into the soup to finish. I accidentally dropped that whole nutmeg sucker right in the pot. I like to call this “infusing” the soup with nutmeg flavor (yes, you can roll your eyes at my clumsiness here.)
I hope you’ll try making it and be sure to add your own tweaks along the way.
Jen's Remixed Pumpkin Soup - serves 6 as a starter course - original recipe found here
For the soup:
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 fresh bay leaf
• 2 ribs celery with greens, finely chopped
• 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
• Salt and pepper
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 3 teaspoons poultry seasoning
• 4 teaspoons fresh thyme
• ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
• 2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 2 (15-ounce) cans pure pumpkin (I used organic)
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1 whole nutmeg submerged, or 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to finish if you’re less clumsy than me.
For the relish:
• 1 apple, in season, finely chopped
• 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1/2 cup raisins, chopped
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat a pot over medium heat. Add the oil and melt the butter into the oil, being careful not to let the butter burn.
Add bay leaf, celery, and onion & season with salt and pepper. Continue seasoning with salt and pepper throughout the cooking process to get your desired level. Cook veggies 6 or 7 minutes, until tender.
Add flour, fresh thyme, poultry seasoning, cayenne and hot sauce, then cook flour a minute. Add more hot sauce if desired (I did).
Whisk in chicken stock and bring liquid to a bubble. Whisk in pumpkin in large spoonfuls to incorporate it into the broth. Simmer soup 10 minutes to thicken a bit, then blend with a submersion blender until onions and celery are evenly fine. Add in cream and nutmeg.
Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.