spiced pumpkin soup with CANadian rye and sage
It's fall. Summer was nice but after 90 straight days of 90 degree heat, I was not sad to see it go. I like fall. I like hot coffee, scarves, layers and cinnamon. I like halloween, hot baths, cool evenings and, once in a while, I really enjoy a rainy day.
Fall days scream soup to me. Granted, I eat soup all year round. But, nothing, and I mean nothing, is better than a hot bowl of soup on a cool fall evening.
This soup is a savoury and heartwarming version of pumpkin soup. Many fall soups tend to be too sweet but this one, though it is flavoured with sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves, gets a savoury and warm, earthy depth from smoked paprika, chilli flakes, sage and good ol' Canadian rye.
For those of you who don't know, Canadian Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye was named the 2016 world whiskey of the year and that's what I've used in my recipe. Though I know some of you might not be able to get your hands on it wherever you might be, if you can, it really ads something special to this soup. But, in a pinch, your favourite whiskey will do just fine.
1 pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion - diced
1 clove garlic - sliced
1 inch ginger - peeled and sliced
1 rib celery - diced
1 sweet potato - peeled and cubed
4-5 stalks fresh sage
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp toasted fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1 litre vegetable stock
4 tbsp cream
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp white pepper
sea salt to taste
smoked paprika & sea salt pepitas
1 tsp cream
1. preheat the oven to 400°
2. cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. set the seeds aside and place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. rub each half with a scant amount of olive oil and, using a sharp paring knife, make 2-3 incisions per half. roast in preheated oven until a knife is easily inserted with no resistance - approx 40 minutes.
3. separate pumpkin seeds from strings of pumpkin flesh and rinse under cold water. dry seeds in between two paper towels and place on a baking sheet. toss with a little olive oil, smoked paprika and sea salt. bake in the preheated oven until golden and toasted - approximately 15 minutes - stirring once or twice. be sure to keep an eye on these so the don't burn.
4. remove pumpkin and toasted pumpkin seeds from the oven. set pumpkin seeds aside to cool.
5. scoop pumpkin flesh from the skin. discard skin and place the flesh into a food processor. puree until smooth.
6. set pumpkin puree in a tea towel lined strainer over a bowl for 2-3 hours, or overnight (in the fridge).
7. after 2-3 hours, tip the strained pumpkin puree into a clean bowl and set aside.
8. heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. add onion, celery, sage, garlic and ginger. sauté 4-5 minutes until vegetables are tender.
9. add cinnamon stick, ground cloves, smoked paprika, brown sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, toasted fennel seeds and coriander seeds. stir constantly to toast - 1-2 minutes.
10. add rye and deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. allow to boil for 1-2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
11. add sweet potato and vegetable stock. bring to a boil and then lower the heat. simmer for 45 minutes.
12. after 45 minutes, remove sage leaves and cinnamon stick. add pumpkin puree to the soup and stir until well combined. season with salt and white pepper to taste.
13. puree the soup in a blender, in 2 or 3 batches, until smooth. add cream and butter and stir until combined.
NOTE: DO NOT FILL THE BLENDER WITH HOT LIQUIDS. BLEND IN BATCHES, EACH NO MORE THAN HALF FULL.
14. garnish with toasted pepitas, a sage leaf and a few drops of cream.