by Robert Booz
- FOR THE SOUP
- 1 Tbsp. lard or cooking oil, plus more to suit
- 1 1/2 lbs. (about 4 cups) of pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup of onion, medium diced
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2 cup Calvados or brandy
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup crème fraîche or cream
- Salt, black pepper, and nutmeg to taste
- IN A SACHET
- 4 springs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole star anise pod
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Take the pumpkin and toss it well with cooking fat and a salt. Spread it out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place it in the oven until the pumpkin is well colored, about 15 to 20 minutes. You can do this quicker under the broiler, but take care to move the pumpkin about every couple of minutes to keep it from burning.
Meanwhile set a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add the cooking fat. Add in the onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until well browned. Add tomato paste and let it cook for another 5 minutes, or until it gets a deep brown color and a caramelized smell. Deglaze the pot with the Calvados, brandy or apple cider, scraping all the bits from the bottom. Add in pumpkin, stock, and the sachet. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 30 minutes (or until the pumpkin is very soft). Remove the sachet and purée the mixture either in batches in a blender or with an emersion blender, add the crème fraîche or cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. If it’s too thick, add a bit more chicken or vegetable stock. Garnish and enjoy.
Roasted pumpkin seeds (I like to use curry flavored seeds), extra virgin olive oil or chili oil, fresh thyme leaves, perhaps another dollop of crème fraîche or some shredded Gruyere cheese.