You can sure tell when summer slides into fall. The hot question on our weekly Free Range chat is no longer what to do with the tomato harvest; it’s how to roast a chicken or braise short ribs. And we are really, really over zucchinis, but we’re starting to think fondly about pumpkins. Like in pumpkin beer, which Greg Kitsock blogged about this week, or pumpkin soup, which is my topic du jour. But more on that later.
First, a look at the three top stories you’ll find in today’s Food pages. One: Dave McIntyre takes a look at how some Maryland wineries are revamping the way they grow grapes and make wine. Two: Tim Carman sits down with legendary superchef Ferran Adria, who visited Washington last week. And three: Bonnie Benwick takes her Washington Cooks column to Georgetown University to reveal how one student cooks creatively under less-than-perfect conditions.
All three of those writers — and more — will be on hand for today’s chat, so clear your schedule, hold the phone calls and join us here at noon for a lively hour. And bring your questions about all things culinary. Here’s a leftover we didn’t have time to answer in last week’s chat:
I had a great bowl of pumpkin soup at a restaurant last week and am now trying to find a good recipe to make something similar at home. I want something that is on the savory side but still highlights the pumpkin. Most of the recipes I have found sound too sweet (i.e., add brown sugar or maple syrup; more like liquid pumpkin pie than a good soup). Any suggestions?
I have two, in fact. The first one, which seems closer to what you have in mind, does allow maple syrup as a garnish, but that’s purely optional. It requires you to carve up 2 1/2 pounds of pumpkin into cubes. The second recipe involves opening a can of canned pumpkin. You decide. (And if you opt for the dicing, check out my earlier blogpost on how to do it safely.)
This is a warming winter soup that is elevated when you garnish it with several different kinds of croutons, especially Parmesan croutons and pumpernickel croutons. An added garnish of cubed apple complements the crunchy croutons.
6 to 8 servings
2 1/2 pounds pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium carrot, chopped (3/4 cup)
1/3 pound celeriac (celery root) or rutabaga, peeled, cored and cut into small dice (1/3 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 inch of a cinnamon stick
4 1/2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
Sea or kosher salt
A little maple syrup, for garnish (optional)
A little freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish (optional)
Croutons, for garnish (see headnote)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch cubes, then held in acidulated water, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then grease it with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Spread the pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly browned but not quite fork-tender.
Melt the butter (to taste) in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrot, celeriac or rutabaga and the onion; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the roasted pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato, the cinnamon stick and broth, mixing well. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are quite soft.
Reduce the heat to low; add the cream or creme fraiche and stir to incorporate. Cook for a few minutes to warm through. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Use a handheld immersion (stick) blender to puree until smooth. (Alternatively, working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender. Remove the center knob of the lid and place a dish towel over the opening; this will allow steam to escape and prevent hot liquids from exiting.) Season with salt to taste.
Divide among individual bowls; garnish with the maple syrup and nutmeg, if desired, the croutons of your choice and the apple. Serve warm.
From Gastronomer Andreas Viestad.
This makes a surprisingly light first course, with colors and flavors that complement the meal to follow. It also makes good use of extra pumpkin puree. The soup may be served chilled or at room temperature.
1/4 stick (1 ounce) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock or turkey stock
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup apple cider
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup light cream (may substitute low-fat milk)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and shredded
Freshly grated nutmeg
Ground white pepper
1/2 cup sour cream (do not use nonfat) or creme fraiche, for garnish
1/4 cup snipped chives, for garnish
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring, until fragrant and soft. Add the chicken or turkey stock, sherry, apple cider, pumpkin puree and cream, stirring to combine until warmed through. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
At this point, the soup may be stored in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
To serve, add the shredded apples and nutmeg to taste, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among wide, shallow soup bowls and garnish each with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche. Sprinkle with snipped chives.