Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SQUASH SOUP IN PUMPKIN BOWLS



For the Bowls:
4 small baking pumpkins (such as hooligan or sugar pie), acorn squash or sweet dumpling squash
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt

For the Soup:
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
Kosher salt
2 sprigs thyme (I used dried)
1 medium butternut or kuri squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream (I used milk)
Freshly ground pepper

For the Toppings:
Pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds)
Sourdough and/or pumpernickel croutons
Paprika, chili powder or Spanish pimenton
Crisp prosciutto, serrano ham or bacon
Fried onions
Fried sage or parsley leaves

* I used bacon, fried onions and croutons

Make the bowls: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Use a paring knife to cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin (make a zigzag cut, if desired). Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the inside of each with 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet; roast until tender, 20 to 35 minutes, depending on their size.

Meanwhile, make the soup: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Strip the thyme leaves into the pot, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and sugar and cook, stirring, until glazed, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, crack the lid to let steam escape and puree until smooth; return to the saucepan (or puree directly in the pan with an immersion blender). Stir in the heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper, and top as desired.

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