Smoky Pumpkin Soup

It’s just starting to be pumpkin season here and the huge orange gourds are sprouting at all the local markets. So, let’s grab one and make a little heart warming pumpkin soup. This is a wonderful addition to anyone’s repertoire of soups. This recipe is one of the simple ones. Pumpkin soups are a blank canvas on which you can paint with a wide variety of spices, but this one will have just three. The warming part of this soup comes from a liberal dose of smoky paprika.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About two cups of diced pumpkin
  • 4 cup of water
  • ½ onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • ½ cup heavy cream, or half and half

Start by melting the butter in your soup pot and sauté the onions. Deglaze the pot with the water to bring up those tasty bits. Then, pour in the rest of the water and add the pumpkin and spices. Let this boil until the pumpkin softens up. Then, using our indispensible magic wand (immersion blender) blend the mixture very smooth. Then turn to a simmer and add the cream. Let this all blend together and serve it hot.

Smoky Pumpkin Soup

Smoky Pumpkin Soup

Guinness Soup

Here’s a simple straightforward use for a pint of Guinness, add it to the soup. Yup, a pint of Guinness adds a nice earthy note and much needed smoothness in a butternut squash soup. In this recipe, I swap the cream for Guinness, and get an added bonus. Not only does the flavor pallet change, but the texture is much improved as the Guinness adds body.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 3 apples
  • 1 quart chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 pint Guinness
  • Sea salt

Take your squash and peel it, split it in half, clean out the seeds, and chop into manageable chunks. Toss this in the pot. Take your apples, core them, peel them, and chop them into manageable chunks. Toss them in the pot. Take your stock and toss it in the pot. Take your Guinness, and you see the pattern that’s developing here… toss it in the pot.

Add a pinch or two of sea salt and boil this until the chunks of squash are all… squishy.

Once these are soft, I use the immersion blender and blend the soup right in the pot.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can take the pot off the heat, let it cool a bit and transfer the soup to a blender and blend till smooth.

Serve with warm rolls and butter.

Comfort Soup – Tomato Basil w Anchovy

A hot bowl of creamy tomato basil soup wards off the winter chill. What’s nice about this soup is that it in contains no fresh tomatoes. Nope, the canned ones work better than the fresh ones in this soup. So, you can make this comfort food from stockpiles in the pantry. For the more adventurous amongst my reads, it’s true, you can add a small can of anchovies to this soup after you blend the tomatoes and it will add a whole lot of salty, fishy, goodness…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small can anchovy fillets
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Start by sautéing the onion, garlic, and basil in olive oil, then add the tomatoes, broth, and a dash of sea salt. Let this cook together in the pot for about an hour.

Grab your immersion blender and blend this till is nice and smooth. Add in the anchovies and half and half and let that simmer another fifteen minutes or so.

When you’re ready to ladle this out, get some nice heavy stoneware bowls and top the soup with some freshly grated parmesan I like to serve this with garlic bread, also topped with parmesan (or a small anchovy pizza).

Comfort Soup – Split Pea

As the cold weather begins to creep in, and a new exorcism movie is making the rounds, I can hear the comforting call of a nice hot pot of pea soup. Yes, there is no greater friend to a ham hock than a piping pot of split peas.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 lb (2 1/4 cups) green split peas
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, halved
  • Salt and Pepper

Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain peas. Place in a 4 quart pan with the vegetables ham hocks and 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer. Skim the top of the soup for several minutes clearing the froth that floats along. Cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the ham hocks from the soup. Purée the soup with a blender;  I use my immersion blender right in the pot, its great for this; if you are using a regular blender, take care to work in batches and only fill the blender halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending. If you want an exceptionally smooth soup, pass the purée through a sieve, but I prefer mine a bit on the lumpy side.

Remove the skin from the hocks and dice up the meat. At this point you can scour the fridge for any left over ham bits and pieces. This is one really good soup for using up those porcine scraps.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls. I like to serve this with fresh warm pumpernickel bread.

Butternut Squash w/ Apple Soup

I just got back from being upstate. Its apple season up there, and I got a really good deal on butternut squash, so its soup time.

  • 1 med. butternut squash
  • 3 apples
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • Salt / Pepper
  • chicken broth
  • water
  • 1/4 c. of half and half

Core, peel, and dice the apples, I usually use fresh McIntosh apples. Then peel and seed squash and cut into chunks. Finely dice the onion. Toss the squash, apples, onions, salt and pepper to taste, broth and water in a large heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Let this cook for about half an hour, till the squash gets nice and soft.

Now, I puree soup in the pot using an immersion blender, then bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer. Then, add the half and half. Serve hot with fresh bread. Rye bread goes nicely with this soup.