It’s been quiet here at La Domestique. I went home to Arkansas to stay with my sister and help with the baby while her husband was away. The day after I returned to Colorado, my husband surprised me with a spontaneous trip to Florida to celebrate our fifth anniversary. We had a relaxing time in the Florida Keys, then stopped off at Disney World (where the husband asked me to marry him six years ago) and Universal Studios for a little magic and roller coasters. While I love the nostalgia of the Magic Kingdom, visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was my favorite. Ollivanders wand shop was just like in the movie, and we couldn’t resist walking away with a couple of magic wands (remember, the wand chooses the wizard). It was fun to leave the stresses of the adult world at the door and just be a kid again with my husband.
Now we’re back home and back to work. I’m developing and photographing recipes in preparation for the holiday season, so you can look forward to a lot of inspiration during the next few weeks. Today I’ve got a recipe for Pumpkin Soup to share that’s fitting for a weeknight supper or the Thanksgiving table. While developing this recipe, I experimented with a few different varieties of pumpkin, but ended up back with the tried and true pie pumpkin (also called a sugar pumpkin). The pie pumpkin just tasted the most pumpkin-y.
Serves 4 in a standard soup bowl or 8-10 in a small cup as an amuse-bouche to begin the meal.
Pureed pumpkin soup is a simple yet elegant appetizer to start off Thanksgiving dinner. This low maintenance dish can be made ahead of time, then heated up in the crockpot on Thanksgiving Day, freeing up valuable space on the stovetop. For this recipe the flavor of pumpkin shines, supported by a hint of savory sage and roasted garlic, balanced with sweet apple and a touch of honey. Choose a flavorful apple with a hint of tartness, such as the Jonagold or Gala variety. Roasting the pumpkin caramelizes the flesh and intensifies its flavor. Homemade chicken stock enriches the soup, but water or vegetable stock may be used instead to keep the dish vegetarian. A garnish of toasted hazelnuts adds a nice crunchy texture to the silky soup, and hazelnut oil boosts the nut flavor, combining beautifully with sweet pumpkin.
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- 2 sugar pumpkins, weighing about 2 pounds each
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 sage leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 2-3 cups homemade chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- hazelnut oil
Toast the hazelnuts. Heat the oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Pour the nuts onto a plate to cool, and then rub off most of the skins with a paper towel. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and store them in an airtight container until ready to use.
Roast the pumpkins. Heat the oven to 400°F. Split the pumpkins in half vertically, from stem end to the base, and scoop out the seeds and pith. Slather the cut sides with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet lined with foil, cut side down. Slip a sage leaf underneath each pumpkin. Place each of the garlic cloves under a pumpkin. Roast in the oven until tender, about 30- 40 minutes. The flesh should pierce easily with a blunt knife. Allow the pumpkin halves to cool for a few minutes, and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon, discarding the skin and the sage leaves.
Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot set to medium heat. Add the apple and onion. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, then cook until the onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally and lower the heat if necessary. Do not allow the mixture to brown. Add the pumpkin flesh and 2 cloves of the roasted garlic, squeezed from the skin (discard the third clove of garlic). Pour over enough stock or water to just cover, about 2 cups. Break up the pumpkin into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until all the ingredients are tender enough to mash with a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes.
Puree the soup. A blender will yield the smoothest, silkiest consistency, however, a food processor or immersion blender may also be used with good results. If using a blender, puree the soup in batches, only filling the container halfway with soup and covering the top with a towel while blending to prevent scalding from splashing soup. After blending, thin the soup with extra stock or water as needed, blending again until the desired texture is achieved. Pour the soup into a clean pot and heat until warmed through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the honey.
Serve the pumpkin soup warm, garnished with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts and a drizzle of hazelnut oil.
Pumpkin soup can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for about 2 days or frozen for a couple of months. Extra water or chicken stock may be needed to thin the soup during reheating.