Thursday, October 21, 2010

169. Creamy Pumpkin Soup, Golden

Almost every good restaurant has soup on the is an important part of our culture. Often chefs and cooks add ingredients according to secret recipes but, just as often, they just add items that they have on hand; their inventiveness can suddenly become the soup-of-the-day.

The effect that soup has on us sometimes begins before we even taste it. Words, like the following, surround the recipes and menu choices and paint wonderful pictures of what each soup is all about: comfort-by-the-spoonful, heartwarming, cozy, homemade, chunky, creamy, hearty, quick, thick, and spicy. It is no surprise that a bowl of soup can make a cruel day seem a lot nicer.

Several of my cookbooks are devoted completely to soups and, surprisingly, no two recipes have exactly the same ingredients. Our regional differences account for some of the differences and another reason is that soup-making is a creative process that has few rules. Soups can be an inexpensive and healthy way to feed a growing family and it is well worth it to learn how to make a variety of delicious favorites.

Today's creamy pumpkin soup is wonderful for fall or winter dining. From start to finish, this smooth and flavorful dish can be ready in 30 minutes. Serve with crackers or warm, crusty bread.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

2 T butter
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
Red pepper (optional)
1 (15 oz  ) can pumpkin
2  1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 C milk
1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C heavy cream

Paprika (optional)

Melt butter in a large saucepan on med-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute until onion is tender. Turn down heat. Add nutmeg and optional red pepper (to taste). Simmer for one minute. Add pumpkin and mix well. Slowly add chicken broth, stirring to combine evenly. Raise heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer soup to a blender or Vita-Mix. Cover and blend until smooth. Return soup to pan. Add brown sugar and stir until well blended. Slowly add milk and cream. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. (If you want a spicy soup, add ground red pepper carefully).

Serve immediately. (sprinkle with paprika if desired). Serves 6.

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