This is the time of year when I love to make pumpkin soup. There are all sorts of pumpkins available at farmer’s markets during the Fall, but my favorite for soup is the little sugar pumpkin. It has just the right amount of pumpkin for a smaller batch of soup and the end result in the soup is sweeter than the larger pumpkins. They are especially plentiful around Halloween and are typically quite inexpensive ($1.50 – $2.00 each). By the way, I never cook with one of the pumpkins that are typically used to make jack-o-lanterns or are decorations. You can toast and eat the seeds, but that is about it.
Now that it is December and there aren’t so many pumpkins (if any) to choose from, how can I have pumpkin soup?? I have to admit that I do really like pumpkin pie made from Libby’s plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), but I have not gone there yet for soup! I always make my pumpkin soup from fresh pumpkin. So, on these cold and rainy Fall days, I thought I would try to come up with an alternative that would satisfy that pumpkin soup craving since I had none in the freezer.
Well, after making many batches of butternut squash soup (with and without apples) and hubbard squash soup (that was actually my second favorite), to try to satisfy the pumpkin soup desire, I came across a recipe that uses 2 different types of squash to mimic the taste and texture of what the recipes says is the French pumpkin’s soup flavor.
I personally have not had pumpkin soup in France. However, my husband has and he always said there was nothing quite the same here. Unfortunately, he has also compared the pumpkin soup recipes I have made to that fabulous soup he had in France. Although mine were quite good, he said, they still were different. After making this recipe, he said that this soup was the closest thing he has found to the soup in France. Now, I have found a way to bring that French pumpkin soup home…without the pumpkin!
I do use my own homemade chicken broth, so I would suggest you do the same if at all possible. I know it makes a difference in the depth of flavor of the soup. It will be a totally different soup if you use any boxed or canned chicken broth or stock.
Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons
Bon Appetit, December 1996
* 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter
* 1 large onion, finely chopped
* 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
* 3 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
* 4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
* 4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
* 1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
* 1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage
* 1/4 cup whipping cream
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
* 24 1/4-inch-thick baguette bread slices
* 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, all squash and herbs; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream and sugar; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)
Preheat broiler. Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange bread, buttered side up, on baking sheet. Broil until golden, about 1 minute. Turn over. Sprinkle cheese, then thyme and sage over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with croutons and serve.