Soup is one of my favorite foods. Homemade soup is the only way to eat it. Pumpkin soup is a very fall sort of dish. Its warm and thick, slightly sweet, and has that lovely orange color. My recipe is good all year round. I used canned pumpkin to keep things easy and make the ingredients more accessible.
All good soups start with good stock. I make my own for two reasons. The first is that I like to use leftover vegetable scraps and chicken bones…waste not want not. The second is that I can control the level of salt…and it tastes better. Your basic stock recipe is so easy. Toss some chicken bones, carrots (or carrot scraps), celery (or scraps), and one whole onion into a pot and add water until it is just covered. (You can add any other veg scraps you might have…I keep mine in a baggy in the freezer along with my chicken scraps until I have enough for stock). Season to taste, or add fresh herbs from your fridge. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about an hour to let all those lovely flavors come out. Strain all the solids and refrigerate overnight. The fat will float and solidify at the top. Scrape it off and store your stock in plastic containers in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Once you have the stock, soup, like any other dish, is all about layering flavors. Season each step and taste each step to ensure perfection. Interestingly, pumpkin soup is not just pumpkin. It gets a kick of flavor from carrots and apples too. Apples add sweetness and are a little lighter and brighter in flavor than pumpkin, which helps cut through what would otherwise be a very heavy soup. Carrots do the same, and also accent that perfect orange. Sage is the primary herb in this dish. It is probably my favorite herb. It has a rich, earthy flavor which is perfect with pork or your favorite Thanksgiving stuffing, but also works beautifully with any kind of squash (stay tuned for my Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto), pumpkin included. Don’t be afraid of those fuzzy little leaves – the texture you feel in your hand does not translate the same once it is cooked.
Chop all the veg and sage up into a uniform medium dice and sauté in equal parts olive oil and butter until everything is soft and fragrant.
I deglaze the pan with beer for extra flavor – any pilsner, lager, or ale that you like is fine – and then add my stock. And cook it all until it is mushy and ready to blend.
Then comes the fun part…the emersion blender, which is my blender of choice for most soup. If you don’t have one, a regular blender covered lightly with a dishtowel will do or you can create the same effect in a food processor or even a food mill. I like the emersion blender because it leaves a lot of texture, but still allows for easy cleanup.
Let it cook a little bit longer to concentrate those flavors, add some dairy to give it that creamy texture, and voila! It keeps in the freezer for 3 months or in the fridge for about a week, so you can make it in advance. It is great served with some toasty bread, some deep fried sage for garnish, or some crumbled italian sausage sprinkled on top! Enjoy!
2 TB of butter and 2 TB of oil
1 medium/large yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and diced
1-2 tablespoon of chopped sage leaves
1/2 c of beer
4 c of chicken stock, either homemade or low sodium
1 15 oz can of pureed pumpkin
1 c of heavy cream or whatever milk you have on hand
S&P to taste
- In a stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Add oil and add onion, carrots, apples, and sage. Add S&P to taste. Sauté until soft and the onions are translucent.
- Deglaze the pan with the beer and scrap up all those brown bots from the bottom. Thats flavor! Add 3 cups of the chicken stock and let the veggies cook covered until very soft.
- Use an emersion blender to puree the veg in the stock. You can leave it as chunky as you like, or smooth it out more if you prefer.
- Add the can of pumpkin and stir until combined. Add as much of your reserved 1 c of stock as you would like to achieve the thickness you are looking for.
- Add 1 c of cream and stir until smooth. Add S&P to taste. Allow to simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
- Serve as is or garnish with crumbled sausage or creme fresh!