Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Vichyssoise with Chimichurri and Goat Cheese

I love seasonal cooking, and pumpkin is definitely the vegetable of the moment for me considering Halloween is right around the corner. I also live in Texas, where it's getting cold, but not THAT cold. I have created a "vichyssoise" version with pumpkin that could be served hot or cold, depending on your mood or your weather. It's comforting and creamy and it looks beautiful on a plate - which I also love. It uses just a fraction of the amount of cream of a normal vichyssoise, so it's actually pretty healthy, because the pumpkin and spices make it so creamy you don't really need it. I love curry and the heat of the paprika and cayenne - it gives it a little unexpected twist! The soup is so easy, but I won't lie, breaking down the pumpkins is a pain in the ass, but you will be well rewarded with delicious soup (and enough puree for many other things pumpkin). Chimichurri balances the richness and gives it a little shot of herbs so don't skip it. Get cooking after the jump!

Vichyssoise (serves  4-6)
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2 large leeks white part only, cleaned and sliced thinly crosswise 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 C fresh pumpkin puree - from baked pumpkins - don't used canned unless you have to and make SURE it is unsweetened if you do.
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 T heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 t curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Chimichurri (white wine vinegar version) (this makes enough to keep on hand for a week or two)
    • 1 C basil leaves
    • 1 C cilantro leaves
    • 1/2 C flat leaf parsley
    • 1/8 C fresh oregano leaves
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • 3 T caper juice
    • 2 T capers
    • 3 T white wine vinegar
    • 1/2 C olive oil (you might need a little more or less)
    • Kosher salt to taste
    • Fresh Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 T goat cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Baking pumpkins  is a easy process as long as you have some time. One four pound pumpkin ***not the big jack o lantern pumpkin - a sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin is variety to use*** made more than enough puree for this recipe. Cut the stems and split the pumpkin in half. scoop out all the seeds and stringy membrane and discard. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat of the pumpkin is tender and pulls away from the skin. Let the meat cool, scoop it out and puree using a food mill or food processor. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. 

Making the soup is a snap! In a large sauce pan, melt the butter on low/medium low heat. Add the chopped leeks and garlic, and let them sweat for about 5-7 minutes - do not let them color at all. Add the potatoes. Add the pumpkin. Let simmer for about 3 minutes on medium, stirring frequently. Add all the spices. Add the chicken stock. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Add salt and pepper. Add cream. Working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Let cool until soup is room temp. Refrigerate until VERY cold - 4 hours or overnight. 

Garnish with Gour-maybe chimichurri - I used white wine vinegar in this version because it makes it a little lighter. I then stir my goat cheese with black pepper for some kick.

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