[Spiced Pumpkin Soup]
I am ordinarily not a huge winter squash fan. I used to dislike sweet and savory together when I was little, and that seems to vaguely remain when it comes to pumpkin and its brothers and sisters. But I do love the look of them and how they come in all shapes, sizes and colors and look like a little munchkin tribe. And the other day at the grocery store, I could not resist buying a big plump slice of bright orange courge musquée – also called courge muscade (literally nutmeg squash), which is your typical Jack-O-Lantern shaped pumpkin. I looked at it, and suddenly I knew : soup. That’s it. I will. Make. Soup.
After researching a little for inspiration – and this included washing my hands thoroughly to leaf with care through Stéphan’s precious Larousse Gastronomique, which he let me borrow under the absolute promise that I would take care of it as if it was my firstborn child – I came up with the following recipe.
Soupe De Courge Musquée Aux Epices
– A 1.5 kg (3 lbs) chunk of raw courge musquée (pumpkin), weighed skin on
– 2 yellow onions
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 1/4 C crème fraîche (substitute heavy cream and sour cream in equal parts)
– one bay leaf
– 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
– 1/2 tsp powdered curry (from the Seychelles is best of course)
– a daring pinch of piment d’Espelette (substitute ground chili or chili pepper flakes)
– 1 TBSP olive oil
– salt and pepper
(Serves 3 to 4.)
Peel the courge. This is harder than I expected – darn that skin is tough! Thankfully, I had my faithful chef’s knife. Cut the courge in one-inch cubes. Marvel at their beautiful color. Chop the onions and the garlic.
In a large saucepan, heat up the olive oil, and saute the onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the courge and bay leaf, salt and pepper, and pour in a glass of water. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes, covered, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
After that time, the pieces of courge should be very tender. Smash them with a wooden spoon or a fork. Add the ginger, curry and piment d’Espelette. I gave the measurements I used, but of course you can use less or more to suit your taste. Cook for 10 more minutes. I wanted chunky soup, but if you don’t, now’s the time to mix it in your favorite food processor or blender.
Add the crème fraîche, stir and serve. Alternatively, you could wait and add the dollop of crème fraîche on top of each bowl, for a nice visual effect.
Serve with poppyseed grissini crackers or triangles of toasted walnut bread.
We enjoyed this soup very much. The taste is made nicely complex by the different spices, and the sweetness of the onions complements that of the courge very well, without making the soup overly sweet in a this-should-be-served-for-dessert way. Will repeat!