After many trials over the years of soups made from various autumn vegetables, I think I finally cracked the code for a truly velvety smooth autumn soup. The trick lied in properly cooking each vegetable (even if that meant cooking them separately instead of just tossing them all in broth to boil), mashing each vegetable in the electric mixer and then - and here's big step - straining them through a mesh colander or sieve. I always skipped this step before because, well, it's hard. Not hard as in complicated and difficult. Hard as in time intensive. But boy was it worth it. I will use these methods now for squash & apple soup, lemongrass coconut carrot soup, sweet potato soup, potato leek soup, or cheesy potato soup - any autumn vegetable soup, really. But here is the recipe I created tonight that has me in such a tizzy:
Autumn Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup
1 white/yellow sweet potato
2 cups fat free half & half (or your favorite dairy or non-dairy substitute)
2 Tbsp butter (or your favorite substitute)
2-3 cups vegetable broth
½ tsp dried rubbed sage, more or less to taste (may substitute equivalent of fresh)
½ tsp dried thyme, more or less to taste (may substitute equivalent of fresh)
Fresh ground sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Remove stem and tough nub at the base of pumpkin, scoop out seeds & guts, and slice in half. Reserve seeds for toasting, if desired (toss with melted butter, a little soy sauce, and salt and bake in 250 oven, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, 45min-2hr depending on amount of seeds.) Place pumpkin halves face down in shallow baking dish or rimmed cookie sheet. Cover with foil and bake 1½ hr. Allow to cool, and then scoop out flesh. I like to do up to this point a day ahead. Peel & chop sweet potato into large chunks. Place in pot with butter and ¼-½ cup of the half & half. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook on medium heat until potato is soft and falling apart, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more liquid if it all cooks off before the potato is done. While potato is cooking, whip pumpkin in electric mixer (or food processor) with ¼ cup vegetable broth. One scoop at a time, strain pumpkin through mesh colander or sieve by pressing with a rubber spatula (time intensive – yes, worth it – yes). Transfer cooked sweet potato & the remaining cream/butter still in the pot to the mixer and whip. Strain whipped sweet potato through the sieve – same treatment as the pumpkin. Whip the strained pumpkin and potato together in the mixer until well blended. Transfer to a large pot. Gradually stir in remaining half & half and broth until desired consistency, it should be thick and velvety. Amount of broth required will vary depending on amount of flesh on the pumpkin. Add sage, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and heat for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. For garnish, top each bowl with toasted pumpkin seeds and/or a swirl of pumpkin seed oil, truffle oil, or half & half. Serves 6.
Nutrition Information, per serving: 136 calories. 4g total fat, 2.5g sat. fat, 10mg cholesterol, 285mg sodium, 19.5g carbohydrates, 2.5g fiber, 8g sugar, 4g protein.
Tonight we ate our velvety soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds alongside grilled Meyer lemon coho salmon on beds of spinach. Happy Halloween!