We're finally back home to the Bay Area after our trip to Europe. Surprisingly, the weather in Paris was a lot warmer and more pleasant than California. It's been raining quite a bit here. With Halloween coming, I picked up 3 small pumpkins and made comforting creamy pumpkin soup to ward off the cold.
The preparation is fairly easy: roast the pumpkins, add a little molasses, puréed sunflower seeds and cream and you're good to go. I paired the soup with grilled slices of baguette bread, so my husband Lulu and I could reminisce about the wonderful time we just had in Paris. I'll be posting a lot of photos of our recent trip very soon. Stay tuned!
Servings: 6 servings
3 small pumpkins
4 tablespoons dark molasses
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
1 bouquet garni (see tips)
2 sprigs sage
1 yellow onion, chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt, as needed
1 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
1½ cups heavy cream
1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise
1 baguette bread, cut in half lengthwise
For the pumpkin flesh: The procedure is the same as for making pumpkin purée. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the pumpkins in half, vertically. Remove the seeds and the strings (if any) in the center. Peel and cut into cubes. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Place the cubes of pumpkin on a greased baking sheet with 1 sprig of sage in the center. Drizzle with molasses and olive oil. Roast for about 1 hour until soft. Let the pumpkin cool completely. Discard the sage.
For decoration: In a small saucepan, heat ¾ cup heavy cream with the remaining chopped sage leaves. Stir well and bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and let cool completely. Season with salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator. Once chilled, whip into an airy foam.
For the vegetable broth: In a small pot, heat the oil and add the onions, ½ tablespoon finely chopped sage leaves and the bouquet garni. Sauté them for 4-5 minutes until fragrant. Fill the pot with about 1 quart of water. Bring to a full boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni.
For the soup: Coarsely chop the pumpkin and blend into a smooth paste in a food processor. Add the sunflower seeds and nutmeg. Add the broth for a smoother flow. Season with salt. Return to the pot and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
For the grilled baguette: Lightly brush the bread with olive oil. Place the pieces on a hot grill. Cook over medium heat until you get grill marks (about 2-3 minutes on each side). Remove from the grill. Rub slices of baguette against a cut clove of garlic.
Assembly time: Thin the soup with the remaining cream until you reach the desired consistency. Stir well. Check the seasoning of the soup. Season with salt (if necessary) and pepper. Re-heat for 5-10 minutes; ladle the soup into small cups. Add a dollop of sage cream.
Serve warm with toasted bread.
You can add a little water, depending on how thick / thin you want the soup.
For optimum flavor, bruise the sage leaves before using them.
Little reminder on how to make a bouquet garni: The traditional bouquet garni is composed of a sprig of thyme, 2 bay leaves (torn in half), 1 small portion of leek (only the green part), a few curly parsley stems and a small stalk of celery. You can always tweak it by substituting other ingredients such as bruised lemongrass, basil, sage, coriander or even star anise. Gather all the ingredients in a square of cheesecloth and tie it with some twine. You can use it to flavor broths.