Pumpkin & Potato Soup

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This was an easy soup made with the leftover pumpkin chunks from my Italian Sausage, Pumpkin and Kale soup the other day.

I turned the heat to medium low (3 out of 10 on my electric stove) and added 1 TBSP of butter. If you want a vegan soup, use olive oil. I just think butter gives it a slightly richer flavor. While the butter melted, I chopped up 1/2 of a yellow onion and tossed into the pot. I let it sweat while I peeled three small russet potatoes and cut into chunks, yielding about 2 cups or so. I already had about 2.5 cups of pumpkin chunks cut up when I chopped up a pumpkin for soup earlier in the week, but if you don’t, then peel and clean 1 small pumpkin and chop it into 1 inch pieces. You will need about 2.5 cups or so and can save the rest for something else.

You should roast the seeds with some olive oil, salt and in this case, paprika for 20-30 minutes at 320° F so you can use a handful as garnish. I already did that earlier in the week.

After 10 minutes or so, the onions had softened and were sweating beautifully. I added 1 tsp of anise seed, 1/4 tsp of cardamom, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper and let cook another 5 to 10 minutes so the heat deepens the flavor of the spices. I then added the pumpkin and potato chunks and pour in enough water to cover them with about an inch of extra water. I put the lid on and let them cook until tender.

Removing the soup from the heat, I mashed the pumpkins and potatoes and then pressed them through a chinois (a metal strainer). You can use a blender or magic bullet or immersion blender or whatever you like. I like using the chinois because it’s low-tech and unlike the blender, it lets you remove the really fibrous bits of pumpkin so you get a smoother soup with a better texture.

Like any potato soup, it is hearty and earthy, but the pumpkin adds some sweetness and the cardamom adds some real heat while the anise seeds just add a grace note like no other. It’s delicious, flavorful and very easy to make. This makes two medium bowls of soup. I sprinkled some roasted pumpkin seeds on top for a garnish and a bit of smokiness.

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Pumpkin & Kale Soup with Italian Sausage

Pumpkin Kale Soup

 

I love caldo verde and have made it time and time again. However, when I was thinking of what to make for lunch, I focused on using a small pumpkin that had been taking up space in my vegetable basket for two weeks now. I cut it in half and scooped out the insides, intent on saving the seeds to roast. I washed them and set them aside to drain so they would be dry for roasting.

I peeled the pumpkin and cut it up into 1 inch cubes. This gave me about twice what I needed for the soup, so I put half in a plastic bag and stored in the fridge, leaving the remain 3 cups of pumpkin for the soup.

I chopped 1/2 of a small onion and two garlic cloves. Heating 1 TBSP of olive oil on medium low (3 on a 10 scale electric range), I added the onions and garlic, some salt and pepper, and let them sweat for 15 minutes or so until meltingly tender. I wanted rich layers of flavor because I would not be added commercial broth and sweating the onions would bring out maximum flavor. I then added 2 Italian sausages and let them brown. Bringing the heat up to medium, I added enough water to cover the sausages with about an inch of water above them. I put the lid on the kettle and let them simmer for about 20 minutes or so.

Now I spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking dish and sprinkled them with olive oil, salt and paprika, stirring lightly to spread the mixture over all the seed. I put the pan in the oven at 320° F and let them roast.

When the sausages were done and the broth had a nice, spicy flavor, I removed the sausages and cut them into 1 inch pieces and put them back in the pan. Then I added the 3 cups of pumpkin chunks. I let them cook on medium until tender.

Meanwhile. I chopped up two cups of fresh kale, removing the stems and rolling the kale into a pipe shape so I could slice it in a thin chiffonade. I added the kale and let cook about 15-20 minutes until done. By now, the pumpkin seeds were roasted and ready to serve as garnish. This made lots of seeds that I set aside for later.

The sausage is spicy enough that the soup just needs salt and pepper to bring out the flavor of the broth. It’s spicy, hearty and delicious. The pumpkin makes this a very different soup, Less creamy, sweeter, more fragrant. It still has many layers of flavor and texture and the pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch and smokiness. Makes 4 large servings.

 

Rosemary Vegetable Medley

Tenderloin

You will get several meals from this prep, but you can roast them one meal at a time and store the prepped veggies in a container in your fridge. The trick is to cut everything pretty close to the same size.  For this batch I peeled and cut to 3/4 inch cubes the following vegetables. Not all are root vegetables, but they work well with the root vegetables. I would have included carrots, but served carrot soup with this meal and did not want to add more carrots to the meal.

  • 2 small turnips. New seasons had a new varietal that was uncommonly small. 
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 yams
  • 8 fingerling potatoes
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 small pumpkin

Generally the goal was to get about equal portions of each vegetable. I then took a whole garlic and peeled and separated all the clover and tossed them in as well. I sprinkle with about 2 TBSP of kosher salt more or less and 2-3 TBSP of olive oil and a spring of rosemary, removing all the leaves and chopping into 1/4 long pieces. With my hands, I mixed all the salt, oil and rosemary into the veggies to make sure they were completely covered. I put in a plastic storage bowl and let marinate overnight. I laid a few servings down as the bed for my roast and let cook at 300° while the roast cooked. After removing the roast, I increased the oven to 450° and let cook until the vegetables began to caramelize.

This makes about 12 servings of vegetables, so I only roast one serving at a time. To roast them without the meat, just spread in a pan and roast at 450° for about 20 minutes. You can also boil and mash for a lush puree.

 

 

Savory Wheatberry Salad

Savory Wheatberry Salad

Although a relatively easy salad, it does produce a bunch of dirty dishes thanks to preparing the elements separately in order to give them different flavor profiles.

I started by putting 2 cups of wheatberries in a pot and covering it with about double its depth in water. After it came to a boil, I turned it down to a low rolling boil. It needs about an hour of cooking to be done. You want it to be a bit toothy or al dente.

I cut up a small pumpkin, cleaning out the seeds and setting them aside to roast for salads. I put the pieces in a pot with water and let it boil until done. I tossed in a couple crushed cardamom pods to flavor the pumpkin. After it was done, I rinsed with cold water so I could easily remove the skin and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, I put a TBSP of olive oil on to heat. I added about 1 tbsp dried sage, 1/2 sweet onion diced, salt and pepper. After the onions were softened, but not caramelized, I added 8 diced mushrooms and sauteed.

By then the wheatberries were done and I strained them. I then added the cardamom flavored pumpkin and the sage flavored mushrooms. I then tossed in a handful of dried cranberries.

To dress, I mixed up a bit of mustard, a dash of sriracha and some baldamic vinegar. A bit of salt and pepper to taste and served.

It’s a warm salad, though it tastes good cold as well. The cardamom and sage flavors come as separate note, underscored by the tang from dried cranberries and balsamic – and a bit of heat with mustard and sriracha. It was delicious and a great addition to Christmas dinner.