Monday, November 10, 2008

Soup Day! (part 3)

I had two meatless soup recipes that were new to us that I wanted to try.
Both looked good for the freezer as all ingredients freeze well, but since they were new recipes, I only made a single batch of each. Good thing.
The first is a pumpkin soup from Emeril. Greg was channel-surfing one night last week (don't you hate that?! Just pick and show and watch it, for Pete's sake!) and found Emeril making a fairly healthy Thanksgiving meal on the "green" channel. He humored me and left the TV alone while I watched the program. After seeing him make this pumpkin soup, I asked Greg if he would try it if I made some. He said he'd "try" it. That meant he was pretty sure he wouldn't like it, but again, he'd humor me.
So last night for supper I thawed some turkey mignons and warmed up some green bean casserole, along with a crunchy focaccia bread. While Greg grilled the turkey, I whipped up the pumpkin soup.
Emeril's Wegmeyer Farms Pumpkin Soup
Yield: 6 servings
1 (2 pound) pumpkin, halved and seeds removed and saved
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 plus a pinch freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
31/2 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
15 to 20 small sage leaves, fried
Method:Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the pumpkin cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Invert to the cut side down, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place in the oven and roast until the skin is golden brown and the pumpkin is tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
Spread the pumpkin seeds on a foil lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven with the pumpkins for the last 15 minutes of baking time, stirring once to prevent sticking.
Remove pumpkins and seeds from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the pumpkin flesh from its skin and set pumpkin aside until ready to use. Discard the skin. Set seeds aside for garnish.
Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and, when hot, add the cinnamon and allspice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the onions, carrots, celery and ginger, to the pan. Saute, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, reserved pumpkin and vegetable stock to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook the soup for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Remove the soup from the heat and process with an immersion blender (*or in batches in a blender) until smooth. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper.

I could tell immediately it had too much allspice, but I like to follow a recipe the way it's written the first time I make it, then I know what modifications to make next time. I did try to "doctor" soup with a few drops of white truffle oil in each bowl, but that didn't really help.
If you click on the link above the recipe, you'll be able to view a video of Emeril making this soup and see what he does differently from what's printed in the recipe. I should have watched it last night. The show this recipe was featured on will be aired again tomorrow night on the Planet Green channel.

Now for a much more successful recipe, Creamy Asparagus Soup. To get this recipe I simply Googled for it and looked at three or four before settling on this one.
Creamy Asparagus Soup
2 lbs asparagus
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
5 cups chicken broth
Leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp dry vermouth
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 Cut tips from 12 asparagus 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
2 Cook onion in butter in a 4 or 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth, thyme, and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
3 While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.
4 Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth. If you want a very creamy texture, you can put the purée through a food mill or press it through a sieve. Transfer to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. (The hand blender meant I didn't have to transfer hot soup from pan to bowl to pan. I didn't strain or use the food mill at first, but after a few bites of strings from the asparagus, I changed my mind.)
Stir in cream. Stir in vermouth and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I did add the vermouth and lemon juice, but it's really good without it, so I'm going to say those ingredients are optional.)
Garnish with asparagus tips. Serves 4-6.
Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine.

Folks, this is good! I garnished my lunchtime bowl with a dollop of sour cream. Yum! If you click on the link above the recipe, there are photos, too.

That's it for "Soup Day" for now. The freezer is well-stocked against these chilly and wet days we're having every week. As I sat and sipped my hot soup for lunch, I laughed at the rain!

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