I have a feature in this month's O.Henry magazine. It is one one of my favorite soups and I want to elaborate more on its preparation and give you a head's up about the difference between the pumpkins that I use in France vs USA.
Left: The French Courge de Muscade pumpkin Right: My Greensboro pumpkin (back left) Almost the same....but not quite.
Don't let that stop you. You just need to make a slight adjustment. It is a simple soup and oh so good.
Now that I am back in the USA, I shopped our local markets for the pumpkins. I struck out in the grocery stores but found what I wanted at the Yanceyville Street Farmer's Market or so I thought. They were not sure of the variety but it looked close. However, when the pumpkin was cooked, it released soooooo much water. With this in mind, you need to change the recipe as it is written in O.Henry magazine. Instead of the 10 cups of water, just add 4-5 cups and if you need to add more later, you can.
Finished product....made in Greensboro. Ready
for the truffle oil drizzle.
The chanterelle des pins add alot but you can certainly substitute fresh shiitake....choose small ones and sauté briefly before adding to soup at the end.
Now for the recipe......
3 ½ - 4 LBS. MUSCADE *
1 ½ CUPS ONION, COARSELY CHOPPED
4 CLOVES GARLIC, TRIMMED
4 SMALL POTATOES, PEELED
½ TEASPOON SAVORY
BAY LEAF and PARSLEY BOUQUET GARNI
½ CUP CREAM
SALT and FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
CHANTERELLES des PINS, lightly sautéed in olive oil *
Garnish: Homemade CROUTONS
or a few pieces of POPCORN that has been tossed with truffle oil.
Cut muscade into large chunks and peel. Set aside.
In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic briefly in small amount olive oil. Add muscade, potatoes, savory, nutmeg, bay leaf, and bouquet garni. Add about 4-5 cups water. (I have found the American pumpkin releases much more water so less is better to start and add more if needed later). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook gently until muscade is tender. Remove bay leaf and bouquet garni. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add cream. Season to taste with salt (don’t be shy, it needs alot) and pepper. At this point, you can freeze or store.
Just before serving, stir in chanterelles. Serve hot garnished with croutons or popcorn and a drizzle of truffle oil.
Homemade Croutons: Dice stale bread, baguette preferred, into petite squares. Heat olive oil in skillet. Add croutons. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and a bit of savory. Toast, stirring almost constantly until dry and crunchy. Store in a tin or glass jar.
For the muscade: Hubbard Squash worked very well but not as fleshy so I purchased a 6 ¼ lb squash. Great flavor and very similar to the muscade. Be careful with the amount of water added.
For the chanterelles des pins: Need a small mushroom that can be sliced thinly....small shiitakes work well...just need to saute a bit. I have seen dried mushrooms at Whole Foods that appear to be like the chanterelles des pins. They would need to be reconstituted and also sauteed.
MENU SUGGESTIONS: It is a ideal first course or use as part of a soup, sandwich salad menu. See my Country Ham Past and Present blog for the perfect match. This soup freezes beautifully.
Some step by step photos....
Some step by step photos....