I love the autumn. The smells, the crisp air, the energy. The world seems calmer, happier. The good spirits that come with the holiday season seems to start with autumn. Scarves, sweaters, boots, blankets, fires. Pumpkins, cider, soups, stews, spiced cake. What’s not to love about autumn?
There’s this path that Shawn and I like to take our dogs hiking on. It’s just off of Redwood Road, a little path tucked into the hill. It leads along the backside of some fairly spectacular houses, and back down alongside a golf course. This time of year, the trails are shaded and covered with leaves that crunch underfoot, the smell of the wet earth and eucalyptus trees just make it pleasantly “fall-y”. Coming back from one of our recent walks, being surrounded by the incoming autumn weather, all I could think about was pumpkins. Pumpkins. And soup. And warm, crusty bread. Oh, yum.
I used a recipe from the most recent issue of Bon Appétit. Cheesy, pumpkin-y, smoky, delicious-y. And yes, I add y’s to the end of most of my adjectives. This soup is actually baked inside of the pumpkin, so be sure to do it on a cooler day because it will HEAT UP YOUR KITCHEN. It’s much lighter than most pumpkin or squash soups I’ve had since it’s not cream-based. Instead it’s just smooth and velvety without any heaviness to it. The cheese helps to add a creamier texture, and the pumpkin really helps to fill out the subtle flavor of the broth. The pumpkin itself really stands out, so you definitely need to like the taste of pumpkin to enjoy this soup.
In the original recipe, they used breadcrumbs to thicken the soup. I, however, have an extreme aversion to soggy bread (Wet bread! Agh!), so I instead added rice to fill out the broth. It worked just fine, and blended nicely with the cheese. I also added some fresh sage to the soup, because who doesn’t like fresh sage and pumpkin? They are the chocolate-peanutbutter of the autumn-harvest-savory-soup world. Oh, I also like to string words together into super-mega words using hyphens. I’m weird like that. THG
PUMPKIN SOUP WITH GRUYÈRE
(adapted from this recipe)
1 6 to 8-lb. pumpkin with a thick skin (Cinderella, Jarrahdale or cheese are best)
1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
2 cups (packed) grated Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup (packed) grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup instant white rice
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
5 to 7 cups low-salt chicken stock
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Cut a wide lid out of the top of the pumpkin. Scrape any seeds and strings off the inside of the lid. Scrape out all seeds and strings from inside the pumpkin (set the seeds aside to roast if you wish). Place the pumpkin in a roasting pan lined with parchment paper.
Rub the inside flesh of the pumpkin with the 1/2 stick of butter. Mix together the cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub spices inside the pumpkin. Add the cheese, rice, garlic and bay leaves to the pumpkin. Pour in stock until 3” from the rim of the pumpkin opening. Place lid back on the pumpkin.
Roast whole pumpkin for 1 hour. Remove the lid and set flesh side up next to the pumpkin in the roasting pan. Add the sage to the soup and stir lightly. Continue to roast pumpkin and lid until the flesh is tender and pierces easily with a knife, being careful not to puncture the skin. This should take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of pumpkin being used.
When the pumpkin is soft, remove from the oven. Discard the bay leaves. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, ladle the broth into a bowl and gently scoop the flesh from around the inside of the pumpkin. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.
Serves 6 to 8.