Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dinner - Pumpkin Soup

Zuppa di Zucca.

Italian food is comfort food for excellence. The choice of dishes changes throughout the year as various fruits and vegetables are in season. Each province has products that grow well in area and the cuisine reflects that.

Last night Raffaella worked until 21:00 (9 pm) so I had the opportunity to cook for her. We enjoy our time together, therefore would not eat separately or try to finish in a half hour break, so we plan dinner after work. We have done this over the years and have learned what type of foods can be filling yet quickly digested so we do not have to stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning after a late meal.

Pumpkins, and various types of squash, mature in October and November. They remain pretty good through the end of December so in these months we do a lot with Pumpkins. There is pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin soup. Hot pumpkin soup is great as the outside temperatures begin to fall, hot and filling.

To make pumpkin soup you need:

1 small pumpkin (not tiny) – it should create about 4 cups of mashed pumpkin;
2 medium yellow onions diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups meat broth
1 cup heavy cream
½ stick unsalted butter
Olive oil
Chopped green onion stems
Tuscan loaf Bread with thick dark crust

Note: Be very careful about the onion you choose. If the onion is bitter the soup will be terrible.

The day before, or earlier the same day, wash and cut the pumpkin into 8 wedges, remove the seeds and the strings that hold them in place, do not take the outer skin off. Place the wedges, fruit down, in casserole dish with about 1 inch of water. Cover tightly with foil and stick in the oven at 450 F. for 1 hr. 15 minutes. Once completed remove from oven, let cool, and leave the foil in place. Once cool to the touch, open the foil carefully because there may be steam trapped inside. Place the wedges, one at a time, fruit up on the foil. Using a large spoon, scoop the fruit out of the skin. Place the pumpkin in a measuring bowl.

Mash the pumpkin, by hand or with a mixer, until the mixture is a smooth paste. Measure 4 cups and set aside. If your pumpkin produces more than 4 cups you can save it in the fridge for about a week or freeze.

At least 1 hr. before dinner, place Olive oil in the bottom of a large pot, set the heat on medium. Take the skin off the garlic and put 1 ½ diced onion and whole garlic in the hot oil. The original recipe would ask for all of the onion but I like some consistency so I sauté the onions to different stages. Also, if you really love garlic, mash the garlic before placing it with the onions.

Add some salt and pepper at this time. Cook the onions until well wilted, and medium brown in color. Add the rest of the onion and bring the onion just to translucent.

Add both types of broth. Stir and add in the pumpkin mash. Add at least a teaspoon of salt and crack some fresh pepper (better if you use a coarse grind). Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat until you have a slow simmer. Cover the pot with a lid slightly off center so steam can escape. Attention, as the soup cooks, the water and pumpkin fiber will separate and can bubble and burn you. Stir about every 10 minutes.

In about an hour, but start looking at 45 minutes, the soup will have an even consistency and there will be very little separation of the liquids.

Taste and season with additional salt and cracked pepper. This time the pepper grind should be fine. Add the butter and heavy cream. Let come to a boil. Turn off and cover. If you left the garlic whole this would be a good time to fish it out. If you cannot find it just be careful when serving.

Cut a thick slice of the Tuscan bread for every serving. Lightly toast.

To serve:

Make sure the soup is still hot but not scalding and stir well before serving. Place 1 piece of thick toasted bread in the bottom of single serving soup bowl, with a ladle scoop the soup right on top of the bread completely covering it. It takes about 3 of my ladles per serving. Sprinkle the chopped green onion on top and add additional ground pepper.

I would serve with a hearty red wine. My choice was 1993 Fontalloro.

I like to make this dish the day before and leave it in the fridge. The flavors seem to mix better.

If you try this, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Also check out the version with Gorgonzola


Labels: , , ,


Blogger Audrey said...

I have tried the approx. same recipe but i took the skin off the pumpkin first. It took so much time and energy not to mention that it was dangerous... I will try your suggestion of placing them in the oven instead. However I find that too much meat or chicken broth can denaturate the soup, especially if the pumpkin you buy doesn't have that much flavor to begin with...

3:37 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Audrey You are right about the balance. One trick I have found with the pumpkins is that the small (about 1 lbs) to medium (3-4 lbs) are perfect. Once they get any bigger they lose flavor and become a bit bitter.

The onions are also very important. I once threw away two batches before I realized that yellow onions from south america are not all the same.

6:12 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home