Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Pumpkin Pear Soup - Another Pumpkin Soup Variation

Earlier this month, I introduced my recipe for pumpkin cashew soup, which I served at a recent seven course vegetarian dinner party.  It was such a delicious soup, that I decided it was worthwhile to do some additional experimentation with pumpkin soups, using organic pumpkin puree.  Thus, for the next soup in this series, I decided to prepare a pumpkin pear soup, using a homemade puree from fresh poached pears.

Several years ago, I used to make a delicious recipe for squash pear soup, using pureed squash and pears, so I figured that pumpkin and pear would be an equally dynamic combination.  Here is the recipe that I designed, which is a deviation from my pumpkin cashew soup, in that it is not really spicy (just a bit of smokiness from the chipotle) and leaves out much of the sweetness, to allow for the natural sweetness of the fructose from the pears.  In addition, I decided to add a bit of nutmeg and star anise to help balance out the flavors.

To prepare the pears, they need to be cooked, so you can puree them.  I chose to prepare them by a simple boiling job (essentially poaching in a pot of water with 1 tablespoon of sugar). This is quite simple, but be sure to peel away the skin from the pears first.  After about 5-10 minutes when they are soft, cut off the fruit and puree it in the Cuisinart.

4 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 cups pumpkin puree
4 pureed poached pears
4 tsp chipotle (not really spicy at all, just smoky)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 star anise
2 T maple syrup
1 cup creme fraiche or reduced fat sour cream
pumpkin seeds

To prepare the recipe, bring the chicken stock to a boil with the star anise,  Add the three cups of plain pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) and whisk to combine.  If you think it is too thick, you can add a bit more chicken stock, and if it is too runny, you can add a bit more pumpkin puree, at any point in the process.   Next, whisk in the pureed pears, maple syrup, chipotle and nutmeg.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and feel free to adjust the other spices to suit your personal tastes.  Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for 15-20 minutes.  At this point, if you need to, you can add a half a cup of extra chicken broth if the soup is too thick.

Remove the soup from the heat and mix in the creme fraiche or reduced fat sour cream, to make the soup somewhat creamy.  This is key to getting the creamy and delicious flavor of either the pumpkin pear soup.  But, if you are trying to make the soup more lowfat, you could even substitute non-fat sour cream.

Serve the soup with a tablespoon or two of pumpkin seeds and a healthy sided dollop of sour cream.  This soup is smooth and delicious, and pretty healthy as well.  It's easy to see why pumpkin soups are so popular in restaurants around America this time of year.  This was one of my favorite soups that I have had in quite awhile.

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