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Cuisine

Creamy pumpkin soup with wilted arugula

11/21/13 | By Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

I know that I should wait at least a fortnight before writing about soup again, but this is soup season after all.  The leaves are falling at a breakneck pace and the winds come and go, slicing through our coats as though they are razor sharp shards.

And then Monday, it was 70 degrees, but fret not.  Cold weather is moving in again in a matter of days.   This November nonsense is exactly why I hesitate to transition between summer clothes and winter clothes. I just take my time and eke out as many flip-flop and shorts days as I can.

As Halloween came to a close we found ourselves in possession of some beautiful autumn squash that has adorned our front porch for a month or so, as we do every year. Like a precisely set Swiss watch, my wife went to work halving, seeding and roasting the pumpkin in preparation for Thanksgiving dessert.  If you need to ask which one, then shame on you.

As the roasted pulp has been sitting in the icebox for a week, and as I haven’t had my squash soup fix as of yet, it was time to sneak a few cups out and make a simple batch of delicious and creamy pumpkin puree.  The flavors are so inherently seasonal that you can’t help but to think of the holidays to come and to reminisce on those that have passed us by so quickly.

Being a naturally thickened soup, this recipe is fantastic for gluten-free diets and diets on which people are avoiding excessive refined carbs, although there is sugar in the pumpkin so I’ll leave it up to you as to whether you will introduce it into your oeuvre.

I made this soup with some wilted arugula but you can also use kale, a nutritious and simple green to cook and have at your disposal at all times. Simply clean the kale of its stems, rip into 2-inch chunks and sauté with some garlic and lemon. Chill in the refrigerator to keep handy and add it to just about any savory dish that you may be preparing.

And now that I have finished my bowl of soup and a nice healthy serving of green beans and some sautéed chicken, it is time to finish watching a little football, paint a couple of rooms in our never ending quest for home improvement and get ready for the week.

As any educator can attest to, when the semester comes down to the wire, there just are not enough hours in the day, but I’ll take the challenge. Knowing that I’m off next Thursday for the sixth time in over 30 years makes me very grateful that I do what I do.

And don’t worry. I will not write about soup next week; that is, unless I stumble across another one that I haven’t made in a while. Don’t let the suspense kill you.

Pumpkin Soup

4 cups Roasted pumpkin (recipe follows)

1 cup Chicken stock, or as needed

water, if needed

1-inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled

2 cloves fresh garlic

Nutmeg to taste

cream as needed to finish

Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the roasted pumpkin (if still whole), stock, ginger, garlic and water (if needed) in the cup of a blender (Vitamix works great for this)

Puree until it is silky smooth. The beauty of the Vitamix and similar blenders is that the friction will actually start to cook the ingredients. Since this is what we will be doing in the next step, consider it a head start

Transfer the soup to a pan large enough to accommodate the volume and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly

Add nutmeg and cream to taste and then perform a final seasoning to your liking

Serve with wilted arugula on top.  You could also use kale although this takes more time to cook.  The latter will have more crunch than the arugula

Roasted Pumpkin

makes a bunch

1 large pumpkin

Carefully cut the pumpkin in half, ensuring that you cut the pumpkin and not your hand; a common injury this time of year

Scoop out the seeds and set aside. You can either clean and roast the seeds for snacking or dry them and plant your own next year; so many choices!

Place flesh-side up on a roasting pan and place in an oven set to 375F

Roast for at least an hour, or until the flesh is easily scoopable from the skin

Remove the pumpkin and allow to cool to the touch (basically as soon as you can handle it, scoop it)

Using a large spoon, scrape the flesh into another pan

At this point you may store it whole until later or puree in a food processor until it is nice and smooth

This freezes splendidly which is why we always have so much in the freezer. Waste not, want not

Wilted Arugula

makes enough for 6 bowls of soup

3 handfuls of baby arugula

1 tsp. butter

Seasoning to taste

Heat the butter until just under smoking. The butter will have started turning brown already

Pull off the heat for 10 seconds and then add the arugula

Immediately toss and serve atop your creamy pumpkin nectar

 

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