This bowl of soup has a distinct sense of time and place for me, as is often the case with the thrown-together meals I make from the garden. The pumpkin is an heirloom rouge vif d’etampes, from Baker Creek Seeds. I’ve been growing their seeds for around six years now, every since I first had a space to grow my own vegetables.
For many years now, I’ve read their catalogue during the dark winter months and put together wonderful assortments of flower and vegetable seeds for my spring order. I’m sure I’ll continue the ritual again this year, curling up next to the wood stove after dinner, wrapped in my favorite blankets, pouring over the latest seed catalogue and dreaming about pumpkins and zinnias. After so many of these quiet moments shared with that catalogue, it was almost surreal to work at the National Heirloom Exposition this September, put on by Baker Creek Seeds. I was amazed to see the transformation of this tiny seed company in Missouri into an earth-moving force, a movement that brought together ten thousand people to celebrate the joy in growing your own food. At the same time, realizing I’ve also come such long way from my first 10×10 raised bed with a few tomato and cucumber plants. It’s quite inspiring what you can achieve with some hard work.
I’ve never been one for traditionally written out recipes. It’s so much easier to cook using a basic formula – you’ll basically want to start the soup with alliums (onions, leeks, shallots, etc.) and fresh herbs sauteed in whatever kind of fat you like. Add in whatever roots or winter squash you have lying around in the pantry. I had turnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and some leftover mashed potatoes, but if you match the amounts listed below with whatever you have on hand (butternut squash, rutabagas, new potatoes, etc.) the soup should still work.
Then, the really charming part of this dish, the ingredient that makes it different from all of the other squash soups out there, is the addition of some orange zest and grapefruit marmalade. At the Heirloom Expo, Shae from Hitchking to Heaven gave me a beautiful jar of her award winning Meyer Lemon and Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, and I’ve been putting it on everything since then. So in case you need reminding, citrus season is just a few short months away, and if you have a jar that needs using, it’s time to get to it. Marmalade is so delicious on buttered english muffins, but the brightness of the grapefruit also adds a vibrant burst of citrus to any kind of type of winter squash or root vegetable.
For this recipe, simmer your winter squash and a tablespoon of marmalade together in some stock for awhile, puree, and stir in a liberal amount of chevre or heavy cream. We ate this soup for a basic week night dinner with BLTs, but a dish like this can be as fancy as you’d like and would make a wonderful first course for Thanksgiving Dinner.
a written out recipe…
- 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. orange zest
- 1 1/2 c. assorted alliums (I used 4 cloves of garlic, 2 small onions, and 1 large shallot)
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 1 smallish pumpkin, roasted and seeded (see instructions below)* I ended up with around 2 1/2 c. of prepared pumpkin
- 1 sweet potato, diced (about 3 c.)
- 3/4 c. roughly chopped turnips
- 1/2 c. leftover mashed potatoes, or 1 medium potato
- 5 c. chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbs. grapefruit marmalade (any citrus is really fine…)
- 1/2 c. grumbled goat cheese
- 1/4 c. heavy cream (completely optional, I didn’t use it but I would have if I’d had it in the fridge)
- 1 tbs. sea salt
- 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
- for serving: thinly sliced scallions, a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt or creme fraiche, and some crumbled bacon
In a large soup pot, saute the alliums, orange zest and sage leaves in the olive oil on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
Add in the sweet potato, turnips, mashed potatoes, and the prepared flesh from the roasted pumpkin. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Pour in stock and bring to a simmer. Add in salt, pepper and marmalade. Simmer on low heat for an hour or so.
Puree the soup using whatever kitchen appliance you like (blender, immersion blender, food processor). Return the soup to low heat and stir in the chevre. Whisk gently to melt the chevre into the soup. Add a splash of heavy cream if you want to make it really rich. Check the seasonings.
Top with scallions, plain yogurt or creme fraiche, and some crumbled up bacon.
*NOTE: The easiest way to cook with pumpkin is to roast it first. Brush off any dirt and put the whole pumpkin on a cookie sheet. Cook at 350 degrees until a paring knife slides easily into the flesh, like checking a baked potato. The cooking times will greatly vary depending on the size of the pumpkin, but a small one will take about 45 minutes to cook all the way through.
Now, out to garden. I’m planting seeds for sweet peas and carrots today. I try to find time each day to grow something beautiful, cook something delicious from the garden, and put something into jars.