As many cooks know, having too many sous chefs or people just browsing the kitchen can get more than a little distracting, especially on Christmas Day. To give you time to clean up after the Christmas morning tornado and the oh so delicious starter dishes, you send the restless crowd outside to keep them occupied while you baste the turkey. Before long, snowballs are flying, angels dot the yard, and little cheeks begin to turn bright red. Exhausted, cold, the activities are once again drawn indoors where piping hot Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish awaits.
Unlike the Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini, the Pumpkin Soup looks simple, but is a complex blend of flavors that culminate in a rich creamy soup that neither you nor your guests will be able to put down. The soup, with a dash of nutmeg and hot sauce, warms your mouth without being too spicy; the perfect tonic for the frozen artic explorers. Because the soup is blended, the sweet crunchy relish adds texture and balance to the creamy liquid. We used fresh Fuji Apples for the relish; possibly a touch too sweet for this recipe, but the flavor was still outstanding. There is no denying however that this soup will become an instant favorite, and once again you have temporarily fended off the hungry patrons.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1 fresh bay leaf
2 ribs celery with greens, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning or 2 teaspoons ground thyme
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can cooked pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 crisp apple (we used fresh Fuji Apples)
¼ red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium high heat. Add the oil and melt the butter. Add bay, celery, and onion. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 6 or 7 minutes, until tender. Add flour, poultry seasoning and hot sauce, to taste, then cook flour a minute. Whisk in chicken stock and bring liquid to a bubble. Whisk in pumpkin in large spoonfuls to incorporate it into the broth. Simmer soup 10 minutes to thicken a bit then add in cream and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
While soup cooks, assemble the relish: combine apple, onion, lemon juice, cranberries, chili powder, honey and cinnamon.
Adjust seasonings in soup and relish and serve soup in shallow bowls with a few spoonfuls of relish.
Makes 8 servings.
Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com