I’ve decided I want to be more French and what I mean by that is, except for every way possible, in one very specific and particular way. I’d like to eat more soup as a first course. Not just in fall and winter, but in all seasons.
Since I’ve been reading From Here, You Can’t See Paris, which is the delightful description of a year in the life of a small restaurant in the Lot, it’s been on my mind. They do this quite regularly, the French, as described by the author, and it led me to wonder, is this perhaps another reason why French Women Don’t Get Fat? Last week, when I made the following spicy pumpkin soup, I wasn’t even hungry for what came next. I was completely and utterly satisfied with a mug of this creamy and piquant soup. And since everyone else has been posting about pumpkin and squash (’tis the season), especially in the form a soup, I didn’t want to be left out. I roasted my pumpkin, inspired by a salad I made about a month ago, before adding it to some sautéed onion, a couple of spices and some chicken broth. I garnished with (what else?) crumbled goat cheese, but you could certainly substitute a dollop of cream, some candied pecans or crushed gingersnaps.
1 medium pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks*
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
1/2 teaspoon (or 1/4 if you’re sensitive to spice) crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry
1 quart box low salt chicken stock (or veggie stock)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon of butter (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°. Spread pumpkin on a baking sheet covered with foil, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with about a 1/2-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Make sure to coat all pumpkin with your clean hands so that the pieces brown a bit in the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until slightly charred and soft.
*To prepare the pumpkin, it’s best to use a very sharp knife, rather than a peeler. Cut the pumpkin in half, then slice into wedges as if cutting a cantaloupe. Scoop out the seeds and stringiness inside and, very carefully, slice from the peel and cut into chunks.
While the pumpkin is roasting, sauté the onions in extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with a dash of salt and pepper until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the rest of the spices (herbes de Provence through cinnamon) and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is done roasting. Add the pumpkin and give it a whiz with an immersion blender (or cool and purée in batches in a regular blender). Bring back to temperature and add a tablespoon of butter to add a bit of richness. Serve with crumbled goat cheese, which once melted into the soup, does not taste like goat cheese at all, but rather, adds a creamy tang without too many creamy calories.
For me, this soup was a revelation since I didn’t follow a recipe. Rather, I went with what I had on hand, trusting that my new toy would make it creamy and delicious. It did. I urge you to get one if you haven’t already. It’ll change your life, that is, if you like soup.
A quote from chef Jacques Ratier, of the aforementioned book, might be an apropos end to this soup story, “Merde but that’s good!”