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Pumpkin…Not Just for Dessert Anymore! by Robin Nathan

RobinBlogMy family recently hosted an international group of 20-somethings who have been spending the year in a Disney college program in Orlando. What an amazing group they were, and from all over the world – Australia, Syria, Khazakstan, and New Zealand. We ate or cooked foods from their homelands during the week they were here. (Who knew there was a Khazakstani restaurant a mile from my house??) We had many conversations about food and culture, of course, something that binds all humans together, no matter their spot on the globe. What do you suppose was the one thing all their diverse cuisines have in common? Pumpkin is NOT served for dessert. Syrians sauté it with warm spices and peppers, in Khazakstan it is stuffed into small savory pastries called Samsa. Down Under it’s braised or mashed, but never, never, is it sweetened! What? No pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, pumpkin lattes?  Are we missing something?  

The short answer is an emphatic “yes.” Pumpkin is delicious in savory dishes, imparting a lovely nutty, veggie flavor in everything from soups to stews to spreads and dips. It pairs as beautifully with ginger as it does with chiles. It’s easy to get fresh pumpkin now at any major grocery store, too. Look for the sugar pie pumpkins that have not been glazed (some are sold with a very hard, thick, shiny glaze coating that make it nearly impossible to cut through.) I made the following recipe for Thanksgiving this year and it was a huge hit. I promise, try pumpkin savory, and you’ll never think of it the same way again!

RobinPumpkinSoup

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Wild Mushroom - Parmesan Garnish
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2-3 pound whole sugar pie pumpkin, quartered with seeds removed
  2. olive oil and salt
  3. 2 T. unsalted butter
  4. 1 large yellow onion, diced
  5. 15 ¼” thick slices of fresh ginger
  6. 1 large thyme sprig
  7. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  8. ½ t. freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 6 cups chicken broth
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  11. ½ cup half and half
  12. 2 T. unsalted butter
  13. 12 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  14. salt to taste
  15. aged Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Arrange the pumpkin sections in a large roasting pan; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in a preheated 400 oven and roast, undisturbed for 30-40 minutes, or until a fork inserted into the flesh meets no resistance. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scrape out the flesh and discard the shells.
  2. Melt the butter in a soup pot; add the onion and ginger slices and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic, and thyme sprig and cook 30 seconds. Dump in the pumpkin flesh and pour in the broth. Add the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a moderate simmer and cook, covered 20 minutes. Remove the ginger slices and thyme stalk. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or pour into a blender and puree in batches. Pour the pureed soup though a wide strainer to remove any solids.
  3. Return to the pot and add the cream. Taste and adjust seasoning. May be held, refrigerated for one day before reheating and serving. (It tastes so much better the next day!)
  4. To make the garnish, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat, stirring infrequently, until the mushrooms give up their liquid and begin to brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. (The garnish may also be made one day in advance and refrigerated.)
  5. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with a handful of the sautéed mushrooms and large shavings of aged Parmesan cheese.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

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