Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Soup

Hi guys!  Guess what starts tomorrow?  Yep, fall officially starts tomorrow.  Yes, it is still blazing hot here, but that is either here nor there.  It is fall, and I shall celebrate with pumpkins.  Pumpkin soup, actually…..
Since the kids are back at school, they….of course…have stuffy noses/colds.  I thought soup would be a good thing for them.  For me too, actually.  I know I had said it on here before….I was sick for like a month.  I am finally starting to feel better….After 2 rounds of Prednisone, 2 kinds of inhalers, full body hives, a chest x-ray, and a round of antibiotics.  I was pretty close to having Chris take me out back and shoot me.  But the antibiotics worked, and I am feeling better.  Thank God for modern medicine.  Anyhoo, soup should be good for all of us.
This recipe for pumpkin soup is really, really easy.  It has few ingredients, and it comes together quickly.  The only thing that might hold you back is the shortage of canned pumpkin in the stores right now.  If you find it, stock up.  If you can’t find it, substitute the orange “winter squash” that you can find in the freezer section, squash baby food, or toss a can of yams in the food processer.  They all will have the same effect. 
This soup is a yummy blend of shallots, garlic and pumpkin.  Most people think of pumpkin as an ingredient for sweet things…..but it is so good in savory dishes.  Pumpkin itself isn’t particularly sweet, and that is why it works so well in soup.
To make this soup, I used a can of pumpkin, chicken broth, cream, a shallot, some garlic, some fresh sage, olive oil and salt & pepper.  I used plain, canned pumpkin.  Make sure you don’t buy “pumpkin pie mix”.  That is sweetened and ready for pie.  It will not work in this recipe.  You will not realize your mistake…you’ll think I’m an idiot…it will be messy;)
I diced a whole shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.  Don’t worry too much about size….this soup will get pureed at the end.  Pumpkin soup should be smooth, right?  I also chopped up the fresh sage.  I grow it in my yard, but if you don’t….it is readily available at the grocery store.  You should consider growing it though.  It is one of the few things I am able to grow without killing.
I throw the shallot and garlic in a pot with some olive oil.  I let the veggies soften for about 8 minutes.  I didn’t want to brown them….just make them soft and sweaty.  Once they are translucent, I added the sage and cooked that for a minute or two.
Then, I stirred in the can of pumpkin.  Super easy so far, right?  I also poured in the chicken stock at this point too.
I let the soup simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.  It will thicken and all the flavors will blend together.  It will smell amazing!
Once the soup had simmered, I poured it into the food processor and pureed it until smooth.  You can go as smooth or as chunky as you like.  I go smooth…..

I poured the soup back into the pot and added a pretty healthy dash of cream.  By dash, I mean like ½ a cup.  Best. Part. Of. The. Soup.
It’s done!  I serve the soup with a couple of toppers….You need some crunch to add texture.  I will show you how I made the most adorable croutons you ever did see.
I took a few slices of yummy sourdough bread and cut out pumpkin shapes with a cookie cutter.  What’s that?  You don’t own 200+ cookie cutters?  Oh, ok.  You can just use a knife.
In a skillet, I melted butter with olive oil.  I also threw in a crushed clove of garlic.  I let the garlic heat up in the oil, and then I toss it.  It just flavors the oil, but it really doesn’t serve any other purpose.
I browned the croutons in the garlicky oil/butter.  I also sprinkled the croutons with salt and pepper on both sides.  These cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until well browned.  When you take them out, drain them on a paper towel so they aren’t crazy greasy.
Before I added the croutons, I tossed in some dried cranberries.  There sweetness is really good in this soup.  You can leave them out.  I won’t hate you.
I also added a spoonful of sour cream.  Crème Fresh will work too.  Gilding the lily, but oh so worth it.  I don’t really know what that means, but I sure do like to say it.

How cute is that crouton?  Yum!  I love this soup!  I ate it 3 times today;)
This is the perfect fall soup, although it should be eaten all year around.  Try it!  You’ll like it!
Easy Pumpkin Soup
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
3 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup cream
For garnish:
Dried cranberries
Sour cream
Add olive oil to a medium sized soup pot.  Add shallot, garlic and salt & pepper.  Sauté over medium heat until veggies are translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add sage and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Add pumpkin and stir.  Mix in chicken stock and simmer soup for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thickened.  Remove from heat.
Puree soup in food processor or blender.  Pour soup back into pot and add cream.  Heat until soup is hot, over medium heat.  Serve with garnishes.
Serves about 6

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