This week I’m delighted to bring you a guest blog from my dear friend and fabulous foodie, Peggy Paul. Peggy has been a cookbook editor for 3 years, a foodie since she could hold a spatula, and a wonderful writer for nearly just as long.
To me, fall means rich colors and striking contrast--deep ridges in the smooth, round curves of a pumpkin; crisp, bowl-of-soup, casserole-bubbling-in-the-oven weekends with the occasional Waldorf-salad-in-the-park afternoon. While summer giggles with sweetness, fall has a grandfatherly sense of humor, teaching patience as you stand at the stove or mind the oven, waiting for transformations. Once you conquer the hard outer shells and scoop out the seeds and sinewy innards, squash—no matter the variety—just needs some quality time in the oven to brighten up and unlock warm, sweet flavors that you’d be happy to eat right then with a spoon (but which almost always benefit from a pat or two of butter and fresh sage leaves or brown sugar).
Although the crisp breezes and bright red and orange and yellow leaves get me every time (and although I do wait all year for the occasion to wear my long, cozy, goldenrod-colored sweater), as far as I’m concerned, fall is all about cooking and food and local harvests. So when the first Long Island Cheese Pumpkins arrived at the farm stand where I work, I had no choice but to bring some home and commence my autumnal cooking adventures.
And maybe also make a few Jack-o-lanterns!
What better way to ease into the season than with a simple, autumn-in-a-bowl pumpkin soup? Earthy and fragrant, slightly sweetened by honey and spiced just enough with cloves and cumin, it makes for an elegant first course to a fancy welcome-to-fall dinner…or (my favorite) the perfect match for a grilled cheddar and apple sandwich.
Pumpkin Soup with Honey, Cloves, and a Hint of Cumin (adapted from Epicurious.com)
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoon (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped1 large onion, chopped
- 1 2-pound pumpkin peeled, seeded, chopped (about 6 cups)
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons honey
For the fried sage leaves:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 16 sage leaves
- Coarse sea salt
To make the soup: Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onion; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the pumpkin, chicken broth, cloves, cumin. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer until the pumpkin is very tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Discard the cloves. Purée the soup in batches in a blender. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Stir in the cream and honey. Bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To fry the sage leaves: Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, drop in the sage leaves, two or three at a time, and fry them for a few seconds, until they just start to turn brown. Transfer the fried leaves to a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt.
To serve: Ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with two sage leaves per serving.
You can read more of Peggy’s musings—and delicious recipes—on her blog, An Un-Still Life
. I particularly recommend her Early Fall Stew recipe
and her bundt cake
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This is incredibly tasty I did make it today for lunch for the girls and I, and it's even yumimer than it sounds. I think it's the hint of nutmeg blending with Worcestershire's sauce that makes it, for me! Mmm! And my family is just as in love with this soup, down to three year old asking for seconds!
In a large stock pot, melt two tablespoons butter and fry onion, celery and jalapeno over medium heat until softened.