Winter Pumpkin Soup with Parmesan Croutons & Bacon Chips
Recipe by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker
Any type of winter pumpkin or squash, such as Sugar Pie pumpkin or butternut squash, can be used for this soup. Just remove the seeds, cut it into wedges, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in a 350° F oven. The roasting softens the vegetable and reinforces its natural sweetness. The addition of stock and cream gives the soup a velvety smoothness, and the croutons and bacon chips add a nice crunch.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices of Hickory smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1⁄2 medium white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups roasted pumpkin, mashed, or unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 1⁄2 cups chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
2 cups stale bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄4 teaspoon red chili flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large stockpot over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bacon and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, then add the rosemary and cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes, or until the bacon is golden and crispy and the rosemary leaves are lightly browned.
Drain the bacon and rosemary on a paper towel. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems and roughly chop the leaves, discarding the stems. Set the rosemary aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease from the stockpot. Set the bacon chips aside while you make the pumpkin soup.
Add the butter, onion, and garlic to the bacon grease in the stockpot and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir often to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mashed pumpkin and the chicken stock, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream just before you serve; do not let the soup boil once the cream has been added.
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
To make the parmesan croutons, toss the bread, olive oil, cheese, chili flakes, and black pepper together in a large bowl. Spread the bread mixture onto a sheet pan and bake 5 to 6 minutes, or until the bread cubes are golden brown.
Serve the soup in warm bowls topped with croutons, bacon chips, and the chopped rosemary.
Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent by Jennifer Hill Booker, © 2014
Jennifer Hill Booker, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.