Creamy French Pumpkin Soup
(A note from Rick Price of ExperiencePlus!) This recipe comes to us from Josette Smyrl, coordinator of our France hotels and restaurants from 1995 through October of 2006. This submission, indeed, marks the end of a long and wonderful collaboration between Josette and her husband, Sam and the entire ExperiencePlus! family. Early in our relationship these two played house mother and father to our French tour leaders who would gather in their rural villa near Aix-en-Provence to stage our tours. They would feed us, coach us, pick us up at the airport or Marseille train station, and act as all ’round cheer leaders for our tours in France. Above all, though, Josette sweet-talked hotel keepers throughout France, finding beds when there were none in the Alps or Pyrenees during the famous stage Race and negotiating some of the most wonderful meals with French restaurateurs. Tour leaders en route to Spain or Ireland from Italy with loads of bicycles looked forward to delightful layovers in Provence with Sam and Josette. We’ll miss you both, but don’t think we won’t continue to visit!
What more can we say at this point than THANK YOU! In other words, “merci, grazie, gracias!”
This Fall delight is Josette’s recipe for French style cream of pumpkin soup. In France, pumpkins are considered a vegetable always used for “salted” preparations and the idea of sweet pumpkin pie is regarded as a funny combination! Pumpkin chunks are often added in winter soup with other vegetables, but the nice, plump, very meaty pumpkins also have their own recipes such as pumpkin au gratin or creamy pumpkin soup.
For 4 servings:
- Two and one quarter pounds (1 kilo) pumpkin “meat” peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 large white onion cut in quarters
- 3/4 cup light cream
- A dash of nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the garlic croutons:
- 1 loaf French bread
- 2 cloves garlic
- Olive oil
Of course you could buy these, but we suggest you try making your own with small slices of day old French bread, toasted and rubbed with a fresh garlic clove… believe it or not, the taste will be much more delicate than anything you may buy.) Alternatively, you can mince the garlic and stir it with your desired amount of olive oil, and then stir in cubes of bread to coat. Then, broil the garlic bread cubes for a few minutes until crisp and toasted.
Put the pumpkin and onion in a large soup pot with 4 cups of slightly salted water. Cook slowly, simmering for about 15 minutes or until tender. (Even better: cook in a steamer or pressure cooker for a very short time).
Using a hand blender or a regular blender, puree the pumpkin and onion with about half the liquid, or more or less depending upon your preference for the thickness of the soup. Blend the soup until it is a very smooth fine puree.
Add 3/4 cup of light cream.
Adjust the seasoning according to taste and transfer the soup into a serving pot (a soupière) and keep warm. Just before serving add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a little sprinkling of nutmeg.
Pour the soup into 4 individual bowls and serve with the small “garlic croutons”.