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Stocking up with pumpkin for Thanksgiving and beyond

Posted: November 6, 2012 - 4:29pm  |  Updated: November 7, 2012 - 10:21am
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"The soup freezes beautifully, in case you were thinking of preparing the soup ahead of time for the holidays." - Crescent Dragonwagon.
"The soup freezes beautifully, in case you were thinking of preparing the soup ahead of time for the holidays." - Crescent Dragonwagon.

Pumpkins are beautiful from the inside out, and I love everything about them. Their color, their shape and the glorious “stuff” inside, have always been both a delight and a curiosity to me. As soon as they arrived at the market, sometime around late September, I began stocking up on pumpkins because I enjoy looking at them around the house and yard for as long as the season allows. When Halloween came, my big pumpkins were used for Jack-o’-lanterns, with the little sweet “sugar” pumpkins earmarked for recipes for the soups that I plan to enjoy as starters before the upcoming Thanksgiving meal. Fortunately, the inexhaustibly talented award-winning cookbook (and other kind of books) author Crescent Dragonwagon, loves pumpkins, too, and one does not have to search long or hard to find tasty pumpkin soup recipes in “Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook,” a cookbook written by Dragonwagon in 1992, when she was the chef/owner of Dairy Hollow House, a country inn located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Of the two soups featured here, Dragonwagon wrote that guests at the inn said that the Pumpkin–Apple Soup with Curry and Cream “alone was worth the price of dinner” and that folks “scraped clean” the bowls in which Pumpkin and Tomato Bisque was served at the First Eureka Bank’s Christmas party. You will find making Pumpkin and Tomato Bisque a breeze and the Pumpkin-Apple Soup, fun –its stock is made from, among other things, the seeds and strings of fresh pumpkin, an unpeeled onion and potato, and garlic with their papery skins left on. With its garnishing of crème fraîche and diced fresh apples, the soup flavored with curry and the zest of a fresh orange, is rustically elegant and tastes like autumn. If, by chance, ghosts and goblins have made it hard to still locate a fresh pumpkin, keep in mind that butternut squash makes a good substitute and will work in recipes calling for fresh pumpkin.

 

Recipes courtesy Crescent Dragonwagon

From “Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook,”

by Crescent Dragonwagon,” used with permission

 

Cresent Dragonwagon is an award-winning author of more than 50 books, including children’s books and cookbooks/cookbook-memoirs. Her most recent books are “Bean By Bean: A Cookbook: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans!” (published February 2012) and “All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep” (a children’s book published October 2012). Visit Crescent Dragonwagon at dragonwagon.com.

Pumpkin-Apple Soup with Curry and Cream

1 small to medium sweet-eating pumpkin, seeds and strings removed and reserved,

cut into pieces roughly 4 inches square

3 crisp, well-flavored apples, such as Granny Smiths, Staymans or Winesaps,

unpeeled, cores with stems removed and reserved, fruit diced

 

Pumpkin-Apple Stock

Seeds and strings from the pumpkin

Cores with stems of the apples

2 heads garlic, papery skins left on, whole

1 large onion, unpeeled, quartered

1 large potato, unpeeled, quartered

Zest of ½ orange

1½ teaspoons salt

6 cups spring water

 

Apple-Onion Sauté

Pam cooking spray

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, such as corn or peanut

1 large onion, diced

2/3 of the apple dice

1 tablespoon best quality curry powder

 

Assembling and garnishing the soup

½ cup apple juice concentrate, thawed

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream or evaporated skim milk

3¼ cups of the pumpkin-apple stock

1/3 of the apple dice

Crème fraîche (optional), recipe follows

 

Make the pumpkin-apple stock: In a large soup pot, combine all the stock ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer, covered, 45 minutes. Let cool. Strain and discard the solids. Meanwhile, make the pumpkin purée by steaming the pumpkin pieces over boiling water until they’re tender when poked with a fork, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the cooked pumpkin in a colander. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, remove the peel. Put the peeled pumpkin in a food processor and buzz to a purée. Prepare the apple-onion sauté: Spray a 10-inch skillet with the Pam and in it heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until somewhat softened, about 3 minutes. Add two-thirds of the diced apples, and sauté another 2 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle the curry powder over the apples and onion, and continue to cook, stirring often, another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and scrape half of the mixture into a food processor. Put the remaining onion-apple sauté in a large soup pot. Deglaze the skillet with ¼ cup of the stock, and scrape the pan contents into the pot. Add 3 cups of the pumpkin-apple stock and the pumpkin purée to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Stir the soup occasionally. Meanwhile, add the apple juice concentrate to the ingredients in the food processor. Buzz until smooth. Add this mixture to the soup pot with the heavy cream or evaporated milk. Continue cooking the soup over low heat until very hot. Do not permit it to boil. Serve the soup garnished with the remaining diced apple and a dab of the optional crème fraiche.

 

Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche keeps for a week or so, beautifully.

 

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk, preferably Bulgarian-style*, or unsweetened, plain,

additive-free yogurt

 

In a quart glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the cream and the buttermilk or yogurt. Shake the cream and the buttermilk or yogurt for about 30 seconds to combine. Let it stand in a warm place. Leave the cream mixture until thickened but still a little liquidy, about 12 hours. (It sets up as it chills.) It can be used right away, but is best after aging overnight in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups. *Kitchen Ade Note: Bulgarian-style buttermilk is very thick buttermilk.

Pumpkin and Tomato Bisque

“Delicious, rich, elegant and a majestic orange-red. Hard to believe it, but there’s no cream in this wonder.” – Crescent Dragonwagon, author “Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook”

 

3 to 4 tablespoons butter or mild vegetable oil, such as corn or peanut

1 large onion, chopped

3 to 4 cups well-flavored chicken or vegetable stock

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes with their juices

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

4 cups freshly made pumpkin or butternut squash purée, or canned pumpkin purée

Salt to taste

Roasted red pepper purée for garnish (optional), recipe follows 

In a 10-inch skillet, melt the butter or heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté slowly, stirring often, until limp but not brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of the stock, and let simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes. Pour the tomatoes with their juice into a food processor. Add the maple syrup or honey, and purée. Strain the stock, and add the strained out onions to the processor. Buzz again, and if an extra-smooth soup is desired, put through a power strainer. Add the tomato-pumpkin purée to the stock. Season with the salt. Reheat and serve very hot, garnished with the red pepper purée if using. Serves 8 to 10 as a starter.

Roasted Red Pepper Purée

Red bell peppers

Pam cooking spray

Salt

Lemon juice

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet well with Pam. Place the peppers on the baking sheet and poke each one once with a fork. Bake until most of the skin is charred and the peppers are slightly collapsed, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cover the peppers with clean kitchen towels and let cool to room temperature. Core, seed and peel the roasted peppers. Cut the flesh into large pieces, then purée in a food processor. In a heavy saucepan, quickly boil the purée until reduced by half. Season with salt and the lemon juice. Set aside for garnish.

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