Archive for category Soup

Fragrant Hokkaido Pumpkin Soup

Hokkaido PumpkinsThis is clearly the right time of year for pumpkin anything. This is a delicious soup that makes use of the Hokkaido pumpkin, which does not require peeling. This pumpkin is very sweet, and is generally harvested in early fall.

Oddly enough, this pumpkin originated in New England. It was introduced to Japan and was then named after the island of Hokkaido.

This recipe calls for creme fraiche as both a thickener and as a garnish. Some recipes call for the addition of potatoes to thicken the soup. I’m not fond of this method because we really don’t want a “potato” taste here.

To that end, I have included a recipe for creme fraiche at the bottom.

Ingredients

1 Hokkaido pumpkin

1/2-1 cup creme fraiche

1 medium sized Vidalia onion, chopped

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

5 black peppercorns

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (estimate; see Directions)

Directions

First, clean the Hokkaido pumpkin well, then cut it in half and clean out the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces. If you want to peel it you can, but it isn’t necessary. If you do decide to peel it, do not cut too far in. Just remove the top layer.

Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large sauce pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the pumpkin pieces and all of the spices, including the black peppercorns. Mix everything well and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add enough stock to just cover the pumpkin pieces. (Here’s where the use of the stock becomes uncertain. It will depend upon how big your pumpkin is and how thick you want your soup.) Stir everything together, and allow this to cook for about another 15 minutes. Check the pumpkin after 15 minutes. If the skin is soft, it is ready to puree.

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool just a bit before pureéing it in your food processor. Here’s where you add your creme fraiche and, again, it will depend upon how thick you want your soup. Stir in about a half cup to start and move from there.

Prior to serving, add a dollop of the creme fraiche to the top of each bowl.

Cook’s Note: Even though it’s not included in this recipe, there are several other items you can serve on top of the soup, like toasted pepitas (raw, shelled pumpkin seeds), pancetta or bacon,

How to Make Creme Fraiche

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp buttermilk

Directions

Combine the heavy cream and buttermilk in a bowl. Cover with a kitchen cloth and allow it to sit in a warm, draft-free place until it thickens. This can take anywhere from 12-16 hours).

Stir and refrigerate until use. This can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.

 

 

 

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Good Karma Slow Cooker Mega-French Onion Soup

french-onion-soupFrench Onion Soup is one of my all-time favorite dishes. When it comes to soup, there’s just about no equal. Of course, the one absolute requirement is plenty of good cheese on top. None of this little dollop stuff. This is a slow cooker recipe, but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of caramelizing the onions first. You can simply throw all of the ingredients into a slow cooker without this step, but it’s a much richer soup when you caramelize.

For the stock, I’m calling for a ready-made beef stock. However, if you make your own beef broth, there’s no comparison. At some point, I will put my recipe for beef broth on this blog, but I haven’t used it for a while and want to tweak it a bit first. So, without further comment, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

6 tbsp butter

3 large Vidalia onions

1 large Bermuda (red) onion

2 medium shallots

1/4 cup chopped chives

1 leek stalk

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp Demerara sugar (white sugar is okay here if you don’t have this)

1/2 cup dry sherry

7 cups beef broth

1 tsp sea salt (I used Red Himalayan last time around)

1 tbsp dried thyme

2 tbsp Herbes de Provence (there are varieties of this; use the one that includes Lavender)

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Baby Swiss or Emmental cheese

French Bread slices

Directions

The first step is to cut the onions into rings and to rough chop the shallots. When cutting the leek, toss the very white part at the bottom, but cut the base into rings and then cut the green stalk into rough 1″ pieces. Make sure you wash the leek well because they tend to harbor dirt.

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onions/shallots/leeks and cook until they are translucent (about 10 minutes). Then, add the Demerara sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 minutes. Within the last two minutes, add the garlic and cook for about a minute, then add the sherry and scrape the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the mega-onion mixture to a slow cooker, add the broth, thyme, Herbes de Provence, pepper and salt (add more salt to taste if need be; this is a conservative amount). Cover the slow cooker, set it on high and cook for about 4-6 hours. If cooking on low, it’s about 6-8 hours. The timing is a personal call, but I prefer the “high” setting.

Slice the French bread into 1″ pieces and toast in a toaster oven. Spoon the soup into onion soup bowls, float the toasted French bread in the middle and completely cover with cheese. You can either put your oven on broil and broil the cheese until it bubbles or put it in the microwave. Top with chopped chives (optional for you, but not for me).

This recipe will serve about eight people. If you’re not feeding eight, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days and eat it again. I did that, and then I froze one container for later. Is it better fresh? Probably. But who’s quibbling over such a delicious dish? Not I.

 

 

 

 

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