Whether served in individual roasted pumpkin bowls on an elegant holiday table or as a warm dinner with a crusty bread and a salad, this recipe is pumpkin perfection.
By Michelle M. Winner
Just as he has done with this recipe by serving his pumpkin soup in mini pumpkins as “Mini Pumpkin Soup Bowls”, you have to recognize the creativity of Master Chef Rudi Sodamin for implementing many innovative ideas aboard Holland America Line cruise ships. As he likes to say “A lamb chop is a lamb chop, so let’s do something new. Let’s do what we think is good.” In addition to the quality of the food in the main dining rooms on all ships, this precept has guided his creation of Tamarind Restaurants aboard some ships. “Tamarind Restaurant ” he says, “appeals to a spicy flavor profile.” To offer the guests even more variety he also opened Canaletto a few years ago; a casual Italian concept with the option of sharing small plates.
Doing it right is what Chef is all about. For his pop-up Le Cirque Restaurants within the beautiful fine dining restaurant called Pinnacle Grill, he and his chefs visit his pal Sirio Marccioni, and sons and chef at Le Cirque in New York City. He learned the style and intricacies of Le Cirque service, atmosphere and dishes to be recreated on the ships right down to exact items, such as the plate-ware and artwork on the walls.
From his cookbook A Taste of Celebration he shares his pumpkin soup recipe. Whether served in individual roasted pumpkin bowls on an elegant holiday table or as a warm dinner with a crusty bread and a salad, this one is “pumpkin perfection.”
Image: Kurt Winner
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, olive preferred, divided
- 4 pounds pumpkin or winter squash ( butternut etc.), seeds and strings discarded
- 12- 6 to 7 inch in dia. unblemished pumpkins for bowls) optional
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2¼ cups chopped onion
- 4 cups chopped leeks ( white parts)
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1½ cups chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon slat
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 3 cups apple cider, plus extra as needed
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 5 fresh parsley stems, 4 star anise, 10 black peppercorns, bundled in cheesecloth and tied with a string)
- salt and pepper
- heat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a sjhllow pan with 1 table spoon of oil and arrange pumpkin or squash( to be used in the soup) cut side up in pan. cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until soft. Spoon pulp into bowl along with any juices ( should be 6 to 8 cups. Pulp can be stored in refrigerator for one day if you wish. Bring to room temp before using).
- Pumpkin Bowls: Increase oven heat to 375 degrees F. Cut tops off small pumpkins and reserve them. Scoop out and discard seeds. cut butter into bits and divide among the pumpkins replace tops and bake pumpkins in pan for 30 to 40 minutes or tender but intact when pierced.
- Make Soup: In large pot heat the remaining oil, over med-hi heat. add onions, leeks, carrots, celery, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cumin, and salt. Cook stirring until vegetables soften.
- Add wine and cider. Scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pot. stirring to dissolve them,. Add pumpkin pulp, chicken stock, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer stirring occasionally. Until vegetables are very tender about 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let soup cool for 5 minutes.
- Discard bouquet garni. Transfer soup in small batches to a blender and puree until smooth. ( Note: I use my immersion blender right in the pot instead). Strain soup. Return to pot and heat to simmer adjust consistency with stock or cider. Season with salt and pepper.
- The roasted pumpkins should be done at about the same time. carefully ladle soup into each one filling about ⅔ full. Replace the tops/ lids and serve immediately.