Blended Pumpkin Comfort


Pumpkin from the garden. Photo: PK Read

Pumpkin from the garden.
Photo: PK Read

The weather over the last week has turned decidedly seasonal-appropriate, with a dusting of snow on the Jura range and wind that is anything but gentle.

The bird feeders are out, the garden is tucked in against the cold, and it was time for some comfort food.

Pumpkin soup, fortified with Gruyère cheese.

Used half, kept the rest for more soup this week… Photo: PK Read

Used half, kept the rest for more soup this week…
Photo: PK Read

Usually I make a simple stock using the pumpkin seeds scraped from the squash interior, carrots, turnips and celeriac, with a bunch of parsley. And I went to do exactly that yesterday, but found I was lacking a couple of ingredients, namely, the turnips and celeriac that give the soup its earthy, rounded flavor.

It was a lazy day, I didn’t feel like going to the store since the pumpkin was already roasting in the oven, so…I turned to whisky.

A world inside. Photo: PK Read

A world inside.
Photo: PK Read

I sautéd onions until they were glassy, then deglazed them with a couple of shots of Famous Grouse (no, I wasn’t about to use one of my good single malts for this one).

The result? Subtle, but tasty. A fine alternative, and also, a new thing I hadn’t tried before, an added positive.

Photo: PK Read

Photo: PK Read

The recipe is a bit fussy for something as simple as cream of pumpkin soup, but it’s both tasty and hearty, so here it is:

Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut and scoop a flavorful pumpkin (I usually use a red kuri squash). Keep the seeds and scooped bits.

Without peeling the pumpkin, rub the flesh with olive oil, place it flesh-down in an oven tin, and let it bake until completely soft. Remove it, let it cool, and you should be able to peel the skin right off the roasted pumpkin.

While the pumpkin is roasting, cut up a couple of yellow onions and sauté them in a pan with olive oil. Once they are glassy, add fresh thyme and sage, stir a bit, then deglaze with whisky.

Add the roasted pumpkin to the onions with a ladle’s worth of the broth, stir for a few minutes, then strain the broth into the pumpkin/onion mix until you get the consistency you like. Give it all a stir to get anything sticky off the bottom of the pot, then purée until smooth. Add a few dollops of cream (or milk), then slowly add a couple handfuls of grated Gruyère cheese, stirring the entire time. Not too much or you end up with stringy cheese soup (unless you like that, then add more).

Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I’m celebrating my 500th post with this one – thanks for visiting!

Some smooth orange music to go with the soup:

Green & Red Bounty, Unfurling

A zucchini froth blossom.

A zucchini froth blossom.

A few shots from the garden as it grows. I don’t have much of a green thumb when it comes to the kitchen garden, but watching each vegetable flower and then grow round has been a pleasure.DSC02283

The first tomato.

A long vine with tiny potimarrons, my favorite pumpkin for autumn soups and pies.DSC02287

The tiny tendrils that seem to grow and grasp for a secure hold before my eyes.DSC02289The gooseberry is weighted down with fruit – it’s from the old garden, one of the only soft fruit bushes we kept through the most recent renovation because it just seemed so happy in its spot. I haven’t yet decided what to do with all the fruit. Jam? Jelly? A gooseberry cordial? The most undemanding, reliably productive plant in the entire garden.DSC02290The cherry tree, which was barren last year, bears the best crop we’ve ever had. Too sweet to preserve, we’ll just have to pick and eat as many as we can and give the rest away. DSC02294

Ditto for the grapevine.DSC02303

And the mirabelle plums.DSC02297

What’s left is for the birds.

Nothing like sharing the bounty.