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Provencal Pumpkin Soup

September 2016

One of the mainstays in southern France during the Fall is pumpkin. Combine the popular ingredient with other fresh produce from Provence, and you have the makings of a delicious and hearty soup, perfect for the approaching cooler weather. This particular recipe for pumpkin soup comes from Chef Mark, who leads small group trips with his Cuisine and Culture of Provence cooking vacation.

Since the gastronomy of Provence is highly influenced by what’s in season, every trip will be different, both in terms of excursions as well as the food made. But, in the meantime, you can warm up your kitchen with this pumpkin dish. For a limited time only too, he’s offering 15% off per person for a trip booked during the dates October 7-15. Contact us with any questions.

Learn more about the food of Provence with a cooking vacation trip.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole pumpkin, approximately 4 pounds, cut apart, deseeded (save the seeds for next year to grow, or roast & eat), cut in quarters & roasted at 350 degrees until soft. Scrape the flesh from the skin.
  • 2 chopped onions (or leeks)
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 quarts vegetable, or chicken, stock. Warm in a separate pan first so it cooks faster
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil to sauté vegetables, and a splash of white wine vinegar or white wine
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Honey to taste
  • Ground fennel seeds, if you have them
  • Optional ingredients: dairy to enrich while blending or to garnish; butter, sour cream, or yogurt. Chef Mark likes to garnish the soup with yogurt, olive oil, dried ground oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, red chile powder, salt, pepper, and pumpkin oil

Directions

1. Saute the chopped onion, carrots, celery, and fennel in olive oil over medium high heat. Stir the mixture often until it turns soft, but not brown (you want bright colors). Then add wine or vinegar; this should make the mixture steam and then allow it to cook until it’s mostly evaporated.

2. Add the warm stock and cooked pumpkin, then mix and cook until everything is soft enough to puree in a blender. You could also use a hand blender/mill or press it through a strong steel sieve.

3. Working in installments, don’t overfill the blender. It should be about 1/2 or 3/4 full, and then add enough liquid so it will blend easily (add additional water as needed). Then add seasonings to pumpkin & vegetables in blender, a pat or two of butter and blend. Taste often and adjust seasonings.

A note: Be CAREFUL of putting hot stuff in the blender! Heat expands in the blender, so leave the top vented a little so air can escape – and not explode all over your kitchen! Turn the on & off switch on & off quickly so the hot air can adjust, or put a towel over the top.

4. Enjoy the delicious soup!

One last note: If you want to save or freeze the soup, cool completely uncovered first then wrap it up. (Covered hot ingredients create bacteria & tend to go bad.)

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