Creamy Carrot Soup with Ginger

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I was looking for a festive orange-colored soup for Halloween, but not really in the mood for the pumpkin soup I usually make this time of year. I wanted to make something a little lighter and brighter.

carrot-soup-2

Years ago I discovered cookbook author, Clifford A. Wright, when he wrote a fascinating book on the history of Mediterranean cuisine, which won the James Beard award for Cookbook of the Year. Since then I’ve discovered that not only is he an expert on Mediterranean cuisine, but he travels worldwide and writes about other cuisines as well. Traveling the world eating good food?  I want this guy’s job.

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According to Mr. Wright, carrot soup was probably created by the French. However their version, Puree Crecy, more than likely did not contain ginger. Whatever the origin of this particular soup, it’s a nice change from the standard carrot soup we made in (French) culinary school. The ginger adds a nice spiciness, without overpowering the soup.

carrot-soup-recipe

Creamy Carrot Soup with Ginger

6 Servings

As with all pureed soups you can do the final blending any number of ways.  This soup is best blended and strained until it is completely smooth. I recommend a high speed blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec.  However, if you don’t have one, a regular blender or a stick blender will also work. You will just need to strain the soup after blending it to make it as smooth as possible

2 tablespoons butter

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1.5 pounds young carrots, sliced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (about a 2-inch piece)

6 cups chicken broth

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup whole milk

2 cups half-and-half

chopped fresh cilantro for garnishing

  1. Melt the butter in a pot over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 15 minutes. Increase the heat to medium low, add the carrots and ginger and cook until softened, about 20 minutes.
  1. Add the chicken broth and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup, in batches if necessary. Strain the soup if you want a smoother texture. Return the soup to the pan, add the milk and half and half and heat to serving temperature without letting it come to a boil. Check the seasoning. Garnish each bowl of soup with a sprinkling of the chopped cilantro.

Adapted from The Best Soups in the World by Clifford A. Wright

 

Creamy Grilled Tomato Soup

soup-1

It’s that time of the year again – the last few weeks of summer.  Today it’s not so bad; however, yesterday it was in the 90s outside with humidity to match. My husband was watching Michigan playing football on television.  Wait a minute, isn’t football watching weather supposed to be somewhat cool?  Something like it was a few weeks ago when we were in the Scottish highlands? 

highlands 

Well, even though the weather is not cooperating with my current frame of mind, summer’s end is absolutely the best time for tomatoes.  However, since I got sick with a nasty bug while in Scotland, soup seemed more appropriate for my situation than another salad.

soup-2

One of the things I love to do when I travel is go to a local bookstore and see what sort of cookbooks written by local chefs are available.  Note:  Scotland was no different.  Recipes for baked goods with lots of oats will be seen on Jeannine’s Cuisine in the future.

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When my husband and I went to Traverse City, Michigan, at the beginning of the summer I went on my usual cookbook scavenger hunt and found a winner.  It’s a beautiful little book called “Fork in the Road,” written by Okemos, Michigan chef, Eric Villegas.  The recipes make great use of the local produce, none are too time consuming and “restauranty,” but they all have a little twist to make them interesting.

tomatoes

This tomato soup is great made with seasonal summer tomatoes.  And don’t limit yourself to just the standard supermarket variety.  I imagine you could make this with any variety of heirloom tomato as well.  Just be careful when mixing colors so as not to end up with something weird.  It will still taste great, but the final color could be a little distasteful looking.  Sadly, I do not recommend this soup with anything but the ripest, freshest tomatoes, so you are pretty much limited to making it in the summertime.  Think of it this way – those tomatoes are what makes all this heat we’ve been withstanding worthwhile.

soup-4 

Creamy Grilled Tomato Soup

4-6 Servings

Unlike traditional tomato soup, the color of this one turns out as a pastel version of whatever tomato you are using. Don’t begin to think that lack of a vibrant color means lack of tomato taste.  It’s smoky and delicious.

5 pounds of ripe Summer tomatoes, type your choice

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste

2 cups heavy cream

Preheat your grill.

Place the tomatoes on the grill core side up and grill until they turn black, turning once.  Use tongs to remove the tomatoes from the grill, placing them and any charred bits you can peel off the grill in a large saucepan.

Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes as much as possible.  Season with a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce.  Continue to taste and season while preparing the soup.

Bring the tomatoes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are reduced to a thick puree, about 20 minutes, but adjust cooking time as needed. 

Puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Note: a Vitamix is great for this, but any blender will do.  Be very careful when blending hot liquids so as not to splatter the kitchen and yourself with molten tomatoes.  Fill the blender container no more than two thirds full at a time and take out the removable center of the lid and cover with a towel with your hand firmly on top.  The towel will keep the liquid in the blender, but allow the steam to escape. You can also use an immersion blender to puree the soup, but the texture won’t be as smooth.

Return the soup to the pan, add the cream and cook until warm, about 5 minutes.  Check seasoning one more time and serve.

Adapted from Fork in the Road, by Eric Villegas

Kitchen Basics – Beef or Chicken Stock

Stock post photo

One of the most important things I learned in culinary school was the difference in the quality of my cooking when I made my own stock rather than buying cartons of it at the grocery store. Because stock is made with bones that contain gelatin, real stock thickens when it’s reduced making for a wonderful sauce or soup, unlike supermarket boxes that remain watery no matter how long you simmer them.

School Notes

The bones you use for your stock can be any kind really, but you will get the best results from bones that have a lot of connective tissue. I like to use chicken necks and wings for chicken stock. Sometimes I will even throw in a package of chicken feet. I have, however, made plenty of great stock from a few leftover chicken or turkey carcasses I’ve stored in the freezer. For beef stock, I use oxtails. It’s worth seeking them out for the gelatinous results they produce. If you can’t find them a trip to a butcher for any kind of beef bones they have on hand will also work. The picture below shows 10 pounds of oxtail ready for roasting.

Raw Bones

I make and use a lot of stock, especially chicken. So I keep a plastic box in my freezer in the kitchen for vegetable scraps. Celery going limp? Into the stock box. Mushroom stems? Ditto. The left over green parts from trimming leeks? Into the box they go. You could also use those two leftover scallions or that parsley or thyme that have been in the fridge a week too long. Those turnips you were going to turn into a gratin, but never got around to it. Sound familiar? Just don’t use broccoli or peppers. The flavor is too strong. And celery leaves will make the stock bitter. Of course my method will make your stock taste slightly different each time you make it, so if you are a stickler for absolute consistency, you might not want to do this. If you decide to, you will need to adjust the amount of vegetables you add to your stock accordingly.

I make this stock with these ingredients in a 16-quart stainless steel stockpot. After I make it, I place it in various sized plastic containers and store it in the freezer. If you don’t have a stockpot this large or don’t want to make this much stock, this recipe can be scaled for any amount of bones you want to use. You could even just use a chicken carcass from a roast chicken. Just adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly. Some people prefer to store their stock in plastic bags. I would have a disaster on my hands if I attempted to pour stock into plastic bags, but it does save space in the freezer.

1 Jar

Beef or Chicken Stock

Yield: 5.5-6 quarts

The technique for making any type of stock is pretty much the same so I am combining both beef and chicken here. Differences between the two are noted, but basically the differences are that I roast the beef bones and use tomato. When I make chicken stock I do not roast the chicken bones. You can certainly do so. The results will be a darker more robust stock. Chicken stock also cooks for less time – 4 hours versus 6 hours.

10 pounds beef or chicken bones

3 pounds onions, peeled and cut into chunks

2 pounds carrots, cut into chunks

1 pound of celery, cut into chunks

3 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 sprigs thyme

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 handful fresh parsley

2-3 tomatoes, cut into chunks (beef stock only)

To roast the beef (or chicken if you desire) bones, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large roasting pan and place the bones in it in one layer. Roast the bones for 1 hour. Place the bones in your stockpot. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the roasting pan and use a spatula to scrape up as much of the fond (brown bits) off the bottom of the pan as you can. Pour the water with the fond into the stockpot with the bones.

Add enough cold water to the stockpot to cover the chicken or beef bones but still leave room for the vegetables. Bring the bones and water to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer. You want the liquid to be barely bubbling. Use a slotted spoon to skim the scum off the surface as it bubbles up.

When the liquid is fairly clear of scum add the remaining ingredients to the pan, but do not stir them in. They just go in a big pile on top of the bones and water.

Raw Stock

Keep the stock at a simmer for 4 hours for chicken stock and 6 hours for beef stock. Do not stir the stock, or it could become cloudy. Do not boil the stock for the same reason. You don’t need to watch it constantly, but check on it periodically to make sure it’s still simmering or has not become too hot. I find I am adjusting the temperature slightly throughout the cooking process.

Cooked Stock

When the stock is done strain it through a fine strainer into a very large bowl. Skim the fat off the stock. Or, you can do as I do and refrigerate the stock overnight and just scoop the fat off the next day. Your stock is now ready to use or freeze in containers of your choice.

 

Ribollita Soup

Ribollita 1

The days are getting longer, and after the blizzard of 2016, I think we are all ready for Spring. As I was returning from walking the dogs earlier today, I saw a first sign.

Flower

I’m so glad I planted these teardrops last fall. How nice to see a Spring flower − a sign of things to come − when the sky is dark and the trees are bare. We’re not there yet, however. There is still plenty of time to enjoy a few more pots of soup.

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We eat a lot of soup, especially in winter. So, I’m always looking for something new to try. Years ago my husband and I attended an Italian cooking class where one of the featured dishes was Ribollita. To be honest I wasn’t that enamored with it. It seemed to contain some broth, some over-cooked vegetables, and a chunk of some kind of meat that, after stewing for hours, tasted like it had seen better days. Not a good start for my future with Ribollita, until I discovered a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine that featured Italian sausage. I had to try it out, and I’m so glad I did.

Ribollita 3

Ribollita means reboiled in Italian. This soup, from Tuscany, is traditionally made the day before it is to be served. I don’t know what sort of magic happens while this soup is sitting in the fridge overnight, but the difference in taste the next day is amazing. It’s definitely okay to eat it the day you make it, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t save some for the next day.

Ribollita 4

Ribollita is usually made with bread. I decided to skip the bread for a lower carb version. If you want a heartier soup, prepare some slices of Italian bread by toasting them and brushing them with olive oil. Place the toasts in each serving bowl and pour the soup over the top of them.

Ribollita 5

Ribollita

6 Servings

This soup is on the spicy side. Vary the amount of heat by cutting the amount of crushed red pepper flakes in half or eliminating them all together. Or, if you really like to spice it up double the amount of pepper flakes or use hot Italian sausage in place of mild.

1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed

1 cup dry red wine

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 anchovy filets, packed in oil, drained and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 bunch Lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces

1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed

8 cups beef stock or broth

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4 ounces parmesan or grana padano, shaved

Use your hands to crumble the sausage in a bowl and then thoroughly mix it with the wine to create a paste. Cook the mixture in a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat until the sausage is cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, anchovies, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, but still retain their shape, about 20 minutes.

Add kale, tomatoes, beans, and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The kale should offer no resistance when bitten into.

Stir in the vinegar. When ready to serve, place soup in bowls and top generously with cheese shavings.

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, February 2015

 

Happy New Year! – Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions

Soup 3

Happy New Year! In years past, this would be the time that I would be anticipating the wintery, dark, diet days of January that I would soon abandon in favor of what I refer to as “chocolate season” in February. I absolutely hate the word diet — so much deprivation! So, this year I’ve decided to take a different approach. Rather than a long list of resolutions, I’ve decided to follow Michael Pollan’s advice from his book, Food Rules — An Eaters Manual. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That’s it — simple, really.

I started Jeannine’s Cuisine in October of 2014 as a way to provide copies of my recipes to friends and family who were always asking for them. Since I started the blog, I’ve often asked myself if I should have some sort of theme — Mediterranean? gluten free? Paleo/Primal? Pastry? Then I realized that Jeannine’s Cuisine is all of that. It’s the way I eat, which encompasses a huge variety. But, in spite of my “everything in moderation” stance, there are still a few “rules” I go by for both this blog and the way we cook and eat.

Let me just put it up front – I love pastry. Of course, I do — I’m a former French-trained pastry chef. But, I seriously believe that sugar consumption is probably at the root of America’s obesity problem, and reading as much about nutrition as I do, I can’t recall EVER coming across anything that said it was good for you. Yes, I do some baking, and you will continue to see some baking recipes on the blog in the upcoming year, but, at least until February (smile), in limited quantities. It is January, after all. I tend to bake things I can freeze, then thaw one piece of whatever it is at a time. It keeps my sweets consumption in check, but still allows me the occasional treat with my afternoon tea, or even breakfast.

Another big part of Jeannine’s Cuisine that will continue in the New Year is to use/eat as little processed food as possible. I’d absolutely love to be one of those homemakers I read about who put up vegetables every fall and bake artisan bread every week. Unfortunately, I have something called a full time job that prevents that, but I can try. Yes, it’s a lot of work to do the cooking I do. I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen, but it’s so worth it when my husband beams when he has a spoonful of a delicious soup that I’ve just made from scratch.

Soup 2

This butternut squash soup is one of his favorites. Mine too, for that matter. If you have a Vitamix or other high- speed blender, it will turn your soup into velvety goodness. If not, you can still get the same smoothness, it will just be a bit more work. Either way, as we look forward to the wintery, dark, no dieting days of January, we know we can stay warm inside with a delicious, good-for-you bowl of soup. Spring is a long way off. Stay warm my friends. Let’s make some soup!

 Soup 1Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions

6-8 servings

We used beef tallow for caramelizing the onions, but realize most people don’t keep tallow in stock. Bacon grease, butter or even some sort of mild oil will work as well, but you will need to adjust the heat on the onions accordingly to allow them to brown without burning the fat.

  • 2 sweet onions
  • 4 tablespoons fat of your choice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Halve the sweet onions lengthwise and thinly slice. Melt the fat in a frying pan and cook the onions on medium heat or lower, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Place the onions on a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the broth, squash, pears, thyme, salt, pepper and coriander. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender, approximately 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender in batches, pouring it into a bowl after each batch. If you do not have a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, after blending the soup, pour it through a fine strainer into a bowl, scraping it as necessary. After all the soup is blended, return it to the pot. Stir in the cream and reheat the soup, stirring frequently. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of the caramelized onions.

Adapted from Los Barrios Family Cookbook by Diana Barrios Trevino

 

 

 

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

Tomato Soup 4

Some people may question the sanity of posting a soup recipe in the “dog days” of summer, especially those in places where the temperature normally exceeds 90 degrees. We’ve been fairly lucky this year in terms of having a hot summer. The Washington, DC, area can usually be compared to a steam bath around this time, but this year has been different, and, I must say, there will be no complaints from me. I love fall and it’s usually this time of year that I start thinking about that first morning I walk outside to discover a telling crispness in the air.

Tomato Soup 2

Meanwhile, we still have a couple of summer months left and lots of summer produce to use up – tomatoes anyone? Tomato soup is one of my favorite foods, and if you pair the soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s a total win, win. How do you like your grilled cheese sandwiches? I prefer a fairly dense country style bread because it can hold more cheese that way. I spread the bread with a combination of mayonnaise and strong mustard and then add the cheese, usually whatever I have on hand. Lately it’s been cheddar slices, but any kind will do. I also add some ham, if I have some and maybe some thinly sliced pickles. Butter up the outside of the bread and fry it until crispy. Yum, yum!

Tomato Soup 3

In this soup recipe, you roast all the vegetables before making the soup, which adds a wonderful smoky flavor. Don’t be afraid to get some char on the vegetables; it adds to the depth of flavor.

Tomato Soup 1

 Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

I kept this soup on the rustic side, by just giving it a spin in my Vitamix. But if you prefer a smoother creamier soup, you can put it through a fine strainer before adding the cream.

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, approximately 1 pound

1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Halve the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and place cut-side up on half of a sheet pan or baking sheet. Trim the stalks and fronds from the fennel, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise then in half again and remove the core. Add the fennel and the onion pieces to the other half of the sheet pan. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands to coat. Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and carmelized. Remove pan from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the vegetables and the broth in a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to do this with half the vegetables and half the broth at a time.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large saucepan. Add the bay leaves and more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then lower heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Hint: Now is the time to prepare your grilled cheese sandwich if you are making one. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cream, if using it.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.

Adapted from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Crab Bisque

Crab Soup 1

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Christmas means different things to different people.  For some, it’s the celebration of Christ’s birth.  For others it’s a chance to get together with friends and family, those you see every day and those that perhaps you have not seen in a long time.  For many children, it might mean a visit from Santa Claus and gifts under the Christmas tree or next to the fireplace.  But, no matter how you celebrate Christmas, or perhaps Hanukah, holiday celebrations are all about traditions.

For me and my family, many of those traditions center around food.  As a child, the Christmas season started the day after Thanksgiving with making cut-out sugar cookies.  My mom rolled and cut the dough with a huge selection of cookie cutters, and the kids got to paint them with egg yolk paint and decorate them with a variety of candies and sprinkles.  I must admit, some years the cookies looked a little better than others.  But they tasted great, nevertheless.  There were other baked goods; some homemade, like a variety of cookies, cranberry bread, and pumpkin bread.  Later we added stolen and panettone, purchased from local bakeries.

I didn’t do much baking this year.  I attempted a gluten-free version of shortbread, a disaster that boiled over in the oven.  I’m hoping to try again next week.  Being new to gluten-free baking, I think I’d better stick to tried and true recipes until I get the hang of it.  Anyway, with no baked goods in the house, I wanted our Christmas Eve dinner to be special.  Growing up, Christmas Eve dinner was always Oyster Stew, a creamy, briny soup with plenty of oysters.  We usually had it with a selection of cheese, sausage, and crackers, some sort of salad, and Christmas cookies for dessert.  I continued the Oyster Stew tradition until we moved to Germany, where there were no oysters to be found.  We settled on a Lobster Bisque made with the small frozen lobsters we could get at the Military Commissary.  I shelled the lobsters and used the shells to make the stock that I used in the soup.  What an eye opener.  It was delicious!

When we returned from Germany a year ago, we went back to the Oyster Stew.  However, this year I wasn’t sure I would be able to find oysters; but finding crab in Virginia was a pretty good bet, so I decided on Cream of Crab soup.  I don’t generally eat the Cream of Crab soup that is available in many of the local restaurants.  You just never know what it’s going to be like — too floury, too thin, not a scrap of crab to be seen.  In one of the restaurants I used to work in, they used canned soup and doctored it up with a little extra crab.  So making my own crab soup seemed like a great idea this Christmas Eve.

Although we had this soup for Christmas Eve, it’s great for anytime of the year; no holidays necessary.  We had it as a light meal with a goat cheese salad, but you could also serve a small bowl as an elegant first course at a dinner party.   This recipe is not your typical Maryland–style cream of crab soup.  Hence, the “Bisque” in the recipe name.

Crab Soup 2

Crab Bisque

4 Servings

I made my own fish stock for the soup, which I honestly believe will give you the best results.  You can, however, certainly make a decent version of this soup using boxed fish or vegetable stock. When preparing the soup, I strained the stock after cooking the vegetables because I did not want the vegetables in the final soup.  It’s a little more work, but I really believe the soup is better for it. I used a claw/back crabmeat mixture to make the soup and finished it with half a pound of jumbo lump crab.  If you can’t get jumbo lump crab, just use 1.5-2 pounds of whatever crab you can get. This soup can be made gluten free by using gluten-free flour to make the roux.

7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) butter, divided

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup dry white wine

3 1/2 cups fish or vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

the juice from 1 lemon

1 pound crab

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Dash cayenne pepper

1/2 pound jumbo lump crab

4 teaspoons dry sherry, optional

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion, optional garnish

Melt 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) of butter in a soup pot, add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until they are beginning to brown slightly.

Deglaze with the wine, scraping any vegetable bits off the bottom of the pan.  Cook until the pan is almost dry, then add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer this mixture for 10 minutes.

Strain the stock into a bowl, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible.  Return the stock to the pan and add the pound of crab.  Bring the stock to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until you are finished with the next step.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium size saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and add the flour.  Stir to make a paste and gradually add the cream, stirring between each addition.  Season with salt and pepper and cook this mixture on low for 10 minutes.

Add a ladle of the stock mixture to the cream then pour everything back into the pot with the stock.  Add the tomato paste and cayenne and stir to combine.  Add the jumbo lump crab, stir gently to combine.  Cook, stirring constantly just long enough to mix the ingredients and allow the additional crab to heat up.

Ladle into soup bowls, add a teaspoon of dry sherry to each bowl, and sprinkle with chives or scallions.

 

Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup 2

A couple of years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to spend 2 years in Germany.  We absolutely loved living there and really miss it a lot. Actually, the only time I don’t miss Germany is in the summer.  Those summers in Stuttgart with no air conditioning were pretty brutal; however, the heat usually only lasted a couple of months, and it was followed by blue skies and cool breezes.  It was time to start planning the yearly trip to Munich for Oktoberfest.  But more important, it was time for Kürbissuppe, or pumpkin soup.

It seemed like every restaurant in Germany had seasonal dishes that you found everywhere.  Oh, how I miss those big fat white asparagus during Spargelzeit in Spring.  You always knew it was fall in Germany when the apples and walnuts appeared on the trees, and pumpkin soup appeared on the menu.

Herrenberg Street

I lived in a beautiful town just South of Stuttgart, called Herrenberg.  It wasn’t large, or small. In the words of one famous fictitious little girl; “it was just right.”  We lived close enough to walk downtown to the farmers’ market, the train station, and a few really good restaurants. I first had pumpkin soup at the Hotel Hasen Restaurant.  They always did something really original  with standard German cuisine, and this soup was one of those dishes.  If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Stuttgart, Germany, I highly recommend taking a side trip to Herrenberg.  In the meantime, let’s celebrate fall by making pumpkin soup.

Pumpkin soup 1

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut and Thai Curry

I’ve played around with this recipe for awhile.  I’ve made it with both fresh and canned pumpkin.  These days I’m leaning more towards keeping things fairly simple, so I made it with canned pumpkin. Make sure you use straight pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.  You could also use butternut or other winter squash.  I garnished the soup with a swirl of pumpkin seed oil, some chives, and a few toasted pumpkin seeds.  You can use any of those, some, or none.  A dollop of crème fraiche would also be nice.

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 leek, cleaned and diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (about 1/4 cup)

2 pounds sweet potato, diced

2 16-ounce cans pumpkin

Juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons red curry paste

8 cups vegetable broth

1 can coconut milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1.  Sauté the onion and leek in the coconut oil until limp.

2.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking 1 more minute.

3.  Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until potato is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

4.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Taste soup and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.