I’m a year-round fan of the color orange, but never more so then now, when vividly-colored pumpkins are in season.
In the weeks before Halloween, huge pumpkins for carving and decorating, abound everywhere. However, as soon as Halloween passes, the only pumpkins you’ll find are small sugar pumpkins, usually in limited quantities, in the produce department of the supermarket. These are the pumpkins you want for making pie and other desserts, breads and many savory dishes — including soup.
The two soup recipes here call for canned puréed pumpkin. This means canned 100 percent plain pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
The first recipe comes straight off the back of the bag from Harry & David’s “Pumpkin Bisque” Soup Mix. Made with spinach, garlic, basil, oregano and the liveliness of red pepper, you add pumpkin, water (or chicken stock), half-and-half and butter to make this creamy, satisfying soup your own.
Cookbook author/restaurant owner Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr.’s cream sherry-laced “Pumpkin Soup En Cappuccino” comes next. Topped with frothed milk, sour cream or cream, Chef Mirabile’s delectable soup may be served warm or “chilled in espresso cups as an aperitif.”
Due to the heavy June rains in Illinois, where 90 percent of the country’s pumpkins are grown, and where Libby’s has a canning plant, I’ve read reports that once the “remainder of the 2015 harvest” is shipped, there will be no more Libby’s pumpkin to sell until next year’s harvest. While a spokesperson for Libby’s has expressed confidence that supplies will be available for the fall holidays and I’ve not yet encountered any problems locating Libby’s pumpkin in the stores where I shop, it might be wise to get what you need early in the season.
Alternatively, Oregon-based Farmer’s Market Foods, offers an excellent organic canned pumpkin product and is not experiencing a similar shortage, noting on their website: “A pumpkin shortage in the Midwest is not impacting the largest supplier of organic pumpkin.”
For assistance in locating where Farmer’s Market organic pumpkin may be purchased, visit www. farmersmarketfoods.com.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food columnist with broad experience and interests in the culinary arts. She has resided and worked in the lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.
Harry & David’s Pumpkin Bisque
Servings: About 6 (1 cup) servings
1 (4.3-ounce) package Harry & David Pumpkin Bisque Soup Mix
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
2 cups water*
2 cups half-and-half
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well to blend. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
*Kitchen Ade notes: If desired, substitute chicken stock for water. Also, if soup is too thick, thin with additional half-and-half or milk. (Recipe courtesy Harry & David. For purchase information or locations for a store near you, visit www.harryanddavid.com.) For added interest and texture, top Pumpkin Bisque with a few roasted pumpkin seeds before serving. If you have a fresh pumpkin, make your own. (See directions following recipes for soups.)
Pumpkin Soup en Cappuccino
Servings: 5 to 6
½ cup olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cups canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Frothed milk, sour cream or heavy cream, for serving
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and brown sugar and stir continuously for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth then return the mixture to the saucepan. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drizzle with a touch of sherry.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and basil. The soup can be stored, covered and refrigerated, or up to 2 days.
To serve, season the warm or chilled soup with salt and pepper and top with frothed milk, sour cream or heavy cream. (Recipe courtesy: “Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook: Italian Recipes and Memories from Kansas City’s Legendary Restaurant,” by Jasper J. Mirabile, Jr.; published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. Find the book at booksellers selling cookbooks or via on-line sources such as www.amazon.com.)
*Kitchen Ade Note: Fresh basil leaves makes a nice garnish for this soup.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Salt or other seasonings, like chili powder, garlic powder or cayenne pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 300 F. Scoop seeds and pulp from pumpkin, cleaning off as much of the pulp from the seeds as possible. Rinse, drain and pat seeds dry with paper towels. Toss seeds in a bowl with vegetable oil and seasonings. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Seeds not eaten within 2 days should be refrigerated in an airtight container.
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