Friday, August 1, 2008


I will continue to experiment with
pumpkin soup recipes simply because
it's what I do. But I doubt that I will ever find a recipe that tops this one. This is total pumpkin nirvana. And there's no need for cream in the soup. It can stand on its own. It's thick and creamy, and the mushrooms and Parmesan cheese are perfect complements. For dinner, we also had a rotisserie chicken (our own, not store bought) and grilled asparagus; but, honestly, all I wanted was this soup. And it's a breeze to make. Since I've still got about 5 packages of frozen butternut squash from last year, I didn't use fresh. You can use fresh or frozen cooked squash, or canned pumpkin. Really, try this soon.

Fantastic Fennel Pumpkin Soup
(by Margee Berry, Trout Lake, Washington)
Rating: 10 out of 10
3 tsp. olive oil, divided (I used more)
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced (I used more)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
1 (16-oz.) can pumpkin, or 2 cups
fresh or frozen butternut squash
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt to taste
2 cups chopped fresh shitake mushroom caps (I used cremini mushrooms and sliced them thin before frying)
2 oz. Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 2 tsp. (or more) olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add fennel and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 15 minutes. (I cooked the fennel & onion about 2 minutes, then covered and turned the heat to low. I cooked them on low for 15 minutes, but remember to check them still and possibly stir them.) Add garlic and cook 15-30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

2. Combine fennel mixture, 1 cup chicken broth and pumpkin in a blender. Puree until smooth, scraping down sides occasionally with a spatula.

3. Return fennel mixture to pan and add remaining 2 cups broth and thyme. Cook over medium-low heat 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt.

4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon (or more) of oil and tilt skillet to coat bottom. Add mushroom caps and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

5. To serve, spoon soup into individual bowls and sprinkle with mushrooms. Using a vegetable peeler, shave cheese over each serving. Serves 6.

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