Sunday, December 16, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Soup and Curly Endive Salad

Last week, I made a Roasted Pumpkin Soup and a Chicory and Garlic Crouton Salad. I chose this meal for several reasons. First, my mom gave me an Asian pumpkin. Second, I needed to use up more of the leftover toast from Thanksgiving, which has been sitting in the freezer since. And lastly, I wanted to utilize the onion jam I made a couple of weeks ago.

The Roasted Pumpkin Soup recipe was adapted from from I substituted the sugar baby pumpkin with the Asian pumpkin, which is apparently much sweeter. To cut the sweetness, I added onion jam to the soup. I got the idea from a delicious butternut squash soup we had in the neighborhood. The newly opened restaurant, Hunter's, added some kind of pickled fruit (maybe apple?) to their soup and I was blown away.

The Curly Endive and Garlic Crouton Salad was inspired by the recipe with the same name in Veggie Food, by Kay Scarlett. It's a great vegetarian cookbook with beautiful photos accompanying each recipe. I took the liberty to swap some of the ingredients, simply to use what we had on hand. FYI, chicory is synonymous with curly endive, here in the States. I didn't know this until earlier this year. And, I masked any freezer burn from the toast by rubbing it with garlic first and then olive oil. This method also transfers the garlic flavor better than cooking or baking the bread with it. I've only included the ingredients below because there isn't too much to explain with a salad and the recipe doesn't seem to be available online.

The onion jam recipe will come in a later post. For now, see my adaptations to the soup and salad after the jump.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Total Time: 45 mins, plus 1 1/2 hrs roasting and cooling time
Makes: 6 to 8 servings

1 (4-pound) sugar baby or Asian pumpkin, cut in half and seeds removed

1 tablespoon olive or corn oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-dice bacon (about 3 slices)
1/2 cup small-dice shallots (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup dry (fino) sherry white wine (Pinot Grigio)
2 cups stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream
Parsley Croutons, for garnish (optional)

1) Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
2) Rub the cut halves of the pumpkin with the oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

3) Place on a baking sheet cut-side up and roast until fragrant, tender when pierced with a fork, and golden brown, about 70 minutes.

4) Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

5) Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh, place it in a medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups), and set it aside.

6) Place the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook until crispy and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes.

7) Remove with a slotted spoon to a small paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.

8) Add the shallots to the bacon fat, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes.

9) Add the sherry or white wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

10) Add the stock or broth, water, thyme, and reserved pumpkin and season with salt and pepper.

11) Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer.

12) Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors have melded, about 10 minutes.

13) Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam from the hot soup to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off).

14) Place the blended soup in a clean saucepan.

15) Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper as needed.

16) Serve garnished with the reserved bacon and the croutons, if using onion jam.

Curly Endive and Garlic Crouton Salad
Serves 4-6

1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil
6 slices of toast
4 garlic cloves, halved
1 head curly endive, washed and dried
1 cup walnuts, toasted
3-1/2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

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