It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.
I apologize dear mother, for I have not had time to keep up with my misplaced food ramblings. I apologize because, though my page lists 66 lost souls, I mean subscribers, I seriously doubt any are left beyond my dear mother due to the wide chasm of time that has separated this post from the last. In my defence, I have been hard at work crafting the pages of my forth coming cookbook ‘Cuisine of the Sun’. The book is finally at the publishers actually being printed. Torrey Douglass, of Lemon Fresh Design, spent several weeks giving it a make-over, making me look like an absolute hero with her dream-like designs. I only hope I haven’t sent her to the same fate I returned to. I know her husband Alan, so perhaps I should apologize to him as well. Writing has been the same brutal assault on my body and mind I thought I left behind when I walked out of my last professional kitchen. Oh how completely wrong and naive I was. I have adopted the Edward Abbey style of writing. I embrace loads of alcohol, nondescript pharmaceutical drugs and lengthy hours like a newly born babe takes to his mother’s breast anticipating the first swallow. I find words flow more freely slightly imbibed, ok, three sheets to the wind. With the ink barely dry on the last page of my book, I felt I better attempt to salvage my dwindling viewership with a very short and sweet seasonal ode to pumpkins in the guise of a recipe.
I was at work the other day when my lovely friend Liz suggested cooking a Pumpkin Soup served in a whole French pumpkin. It was funny because I was thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time. Sometimes I think the two of us are connected by the same stomach or at least, the same lust for food. We share common dreams of foie gras sausages, pork belly banh mi and duck confit dancing in a near constant gastronomical Maypole dance.
This soup is something I very much would have served in any restaurant I worked. It is the culmination of what is available locally through my local farmer’s market, my kick ass job at Foods in Season and my imagination. I beg you to try it. I promise it tastes good enough to bridge the chasm I created between posts.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 sweet onion, sliced
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
- 1 inch section of young ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 new sweet potato, peeled and sliced
- 1 - 5# French pumpkin, see note
- pinch herbes de Provence
- pinch espelette pepper
- 1 quart homemade chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Mountain Rose apple, peeled and julienned
- 1 duck leg cooked in confit, available in most specialty food stores, shredded
- 1 - 8 ounce tub mascarpone
- 4 ounces fresh chestnuts, roasted and shelled
- 2 tablespoons apple balsamic, available in specialty food stores
- Melt butter in a large, heavy gauge pan.
- Add onion and carrots and saute for five minutes.
- Add garlic and ginger, and continue cooking till both are fragrant, about two minutes.
- Add sweet potato and pumpkin meat. Season with herbes de Provence and espelette pepper and cook over low heat for five minutes longer.
- Add 1 quart homemade chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook till everything is soft and fully cooked.
- Add heavy cream and season with salt and pepper.
- Puree in a blender. Keep warm.
- Heat pumpkin in oven for five minutes.
- Fill with pumpkin soup.
- Garnish with Mountain Rose apples, duck meat, spoonful of mascarpone, roasted chestnuts and a drizzle of apple balsamic and serve!
Cut the top off a French pumpkin using a serrated knife and scrape excess meat off of lid. Remove seeds and throw away, or roast and garnish soup with it. Cut away enough meat from the sides so you have a quart. Leave enough meat so that the pumpkin will hold it's shape when full of soup.
Mountain Rose Apples
Dramatic apples with lush red fleshed apples and a beautiful flavor.
At the Portland Farmers Market I came across a vendor with four different kinds of chestnuts to choose from. They had been growing them for 20 years. Never in my life have I tasted a better chestnut. They showed me an easy trick: cut a cross into the skin of your chestnuts and roast at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Easily peel chestnuts and save meats for garnishing soup.