Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pumpkin and Corn Bisque

Yes, soup is the epitome of fall.  It's the warmth to your soul in the dead of winter.  Yeah.  It's all that and a bag of chips. BLAH, BLAH BLAH.  That's of course if you live in a place where you are blessed enough to ACTUALLY  HAVE an autumn OR a winter for that matter.  ME?   I CRAVE cold, winter days, rain, a little wind and some CLOUDS.  I don't want to wear my sun glasses in the winter!  I don't want to put my  shorts (yuk...) and I certainly don't want to SWEAT while I try to cook something "soul warming and satisfying" !!

But as I have said before, sometimes you just need soup.  It's good for anytime and any meal, be it lunch or dinner.  Soup makes me happy.  Even if we have to turn on the air conditioner just to eat it! 

I made this soup in November and since then, I have made it with Castilla squash (a type of pumpkin) and butternut squash.  All three are PERFECT for this soup and almost indistinguishable in taste.

If you can find Castilla squash, I recommend using it.  It's so delicious and such a gorgeous orange color! 

Don't know what Castilla squash is?  Its a variety of pumpkin...gorgeous and almost "orange-bronzy" in color and short and squat (not like a regular pumpkin) more like a Cinderella pumpkin, if you are familiar. The inside is far more orange than that of butternut and pumpkin and is absolutely filled with anti-oxidants and vitamins.  If you are lucky to be near any ethnic specialty store (middle eastern, Mexican, etc..) or have a fantasically stocked grocery, you will most likely find it cut up and sold in pieces.  You would be SUPER lucky to find one whole (how fun!).   If you did, you could cube it up raw and freeze it for later pumpkin recipes.  This gorgeous squash looks like this:

If you are in SoCAL, make the soup anyway.  You can turn the Air conditioner on and pretend we have cold weather.  If you are fortunate to live in a place that is actually having winter right now,  this soup will indeed warm your soul. 

The pumpkin seed topping is key to this soup.  Dont skimp on it....they give the soup such texture and flavor that I think you would be sad without them.  I know I would be!

I lost  my pictures on Picasa for this soup.... I will make it again and post those pics...I am sorry for that.  The pictures are sometimes the best part.  But I didnt want that to stop me from posting this recipe.

W/Pumpkin seed topping

** Note:  Roasting pumpkin or butternut first imparts a deeper flavor.  Cut the squash lengthwise and remove seeds and strings.  Put on a foil lined pan and roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until soft.  Remove, cool and peel.  Cut squash into large cubes and measure 4 cups. ** If usiong Castilla - do not over roast it...cook till Barely soft.

2 boxes (32 oz each) of Chicken stock (and maybe 1 can extra if thinning is needed)
4 cups of cubed roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin, castilla or butternut squash
1 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly (or minced if you dont want to mess with it)
1 Jalapeno,  chopped (leaving seeds in)
2 ears white corn, Roasted on the cob and kernels cut (or frozen white corn  when not available -about 2 cups)
¾ cup Israeli couscous (use orzo or Acini De Pepe pasta with the same results )
4-6 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste)
½ cup or more – sour cream, to taste - OK to use light, but I wouldnt want to use fat free
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon Ginger
Salt and pepper, to taste

For topping:
(make roasted seeds below or alternatively buy roasted and salted seeds and skip this step)
½ cup or more raw Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Olive oil

Turn on the broiler.

In large soup pot, add some olive oil and heat until shimmering.   Add chopped onion and garlic slices and sauté until golden and a bit caramelized.  Add Jalapeno’s and quickly sauté a minute more. Combine Chicken Stock (both boxes) with the onion mixture and bring to a boil.

Add the 4 cups of Roasted  pumpkin; continue to simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the corn ears / frozen corn, if using, on a foil lined pan just until the corn starts to darken.  REMOVE from broiler and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees for the pumpkin seed topping.

Using a food processor, blender or stick blender (I find the stick Blender is the best), begin to puree the entire batch of soup.  Return soup to pot and whisk in the Salt, Pepper, Ginger and onion powder (use the quantities as a guide line – and add more if desired)

Add Corn and the Israeli couscous (or other small pasta like orzo or Acini De Pepe) and simmer 10 minutes or so until the pasta is done. 

Meanwhile mix the Pepitas in a small oven proof dish and add olive oil (about a tablespoon), and salt and roast in a HOT oven (about 400 degrees) – removed when the seeds are puffy and getting dark.

Taste soup and stir/whisk in 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar and the sour cream…these ingredients are to taste so add until you feel it’s perfect.  (you might want more spices, brown sugar, sour cream) if too thick, add more stock until desired consistency.

Serve in a large bowl with lots of roasted pumpkin seed s and a dollop of sour cream.

The result?  A slightly spicy, slightly sweet, beautifully textured soup that is rich, satisfying and filling.  It's worth eating.  Even in the heat of SoCal - Make it and pretend it's winter.

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

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