Tis the Season for Gluttony

October 23, 2007

Though the recent weather might be trying its damnedest to make us believe otherwise, it is fall. Lucky for me, I have no attachment to the whole leaves - changing - nip - in - the - air - first - cold - snap idea of fall and instead the change in season manifests itself in the form of newly desired and available foodstuffs. The apple cider donuts at the Grand Army Farmers Market suddenly dominate my thoughts on Saturday mornings and spiced pecans shift from decadent treat to diet staple. Realizing that we had both abruptly developed an unprecedented obsession with pumpkin, Rebecca and I decided to ring in the season by making some pumpkin bread. The resultant loaves or their imminent successors might make an appearance soon, but in the absence of images and recipe I will just say that there was much consuming of batter on my end and Rebecca's loaf nearly fell apart under the weight of its own chocolate chips. As soon as we parted I promptly put half of my loaf safely in the freezer lest I convince myself days that pumpkin bread 3 meals a day is a small sacrifice when facing potential spoilage, and pondered what to do with my leftover pumpkin puree.

In addition to bringing a craving for spicy breads (squash harvest loaf, I'm looking at you), fall carries with it a hankering for stew. With this in mind I set to invetigate pumpkin soup recipes and ended up settling on one that augmented the pumpkin with cannellini beans. Though lacking some of the ingredients suggested by various recipes (fresh sage, basil, bay leaves) and one apparently key ingredient (chicken or vegetable stock), I decided to take a whack at it. What came of my efforts was something in between a soup and a stew and decidedly fantastic. The recipe itself is very simple but the pumpkin not only adds a unexpected dimension to the flavor but actually heightens the performance of the beans. I have made many a white bean soup that turn out more like bean mush which, while tasty, cannot exactly be deemed a veritable "dish." I decided to go with Pecorino-Romano over the Parmesan that was unanimously called for by the recipes I found and believe this was a wise choice. It is both creamier and saltier than Parmesan and melts wonderfully into the soup. The cherry tomato garnish was less an appropriate mixing of flavors and more a nod to what might be the last good batch. Though the passing of summer brings much cause for regret, thank goodness it's time once again to fatten up for winter!

Pumpkin-White Bean Soup:

The following recipe is more than open to experimentation. In regards to the liquid, I used 2 cups water, 1 cup fat-free buttermilk, and then dashed some regular milk in there towards the end. It depends on how creamy you want the soup and clearly if you'd like to use chicken or vegetable broth as other recipes suggested, I'm sure it would be tasty. I happened to like the absence of sodium and chicken flavor, but taste varies.
dollop olive oil
1 medium-sized sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 1/2 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz unsweetened pumpkin purée
3 1/2 cups liquid
~ 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you're not a spice fan)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
grated Pecorino RomanoHeat olive oil in medium-sized saucepan.
Toss onion and garlic into medium-sized saucepan with some salt and pepper and simmer until onions are translucent.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer for approximately 8 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and blend approximately one cup of the mixture at a time in blender until the consistency is even, the beans and onions as uniformly pureed as desired. Be very careful with this step, my first attempt sent the blender cover rocketing sky-high along with some boiling soup.

Transfer back to pan and reheat, serve garnished with grated Pecorino and anything else that deserves to be garnish. Perhaps some nice bacon, or...bacon.


Cereal Lady said...

that looks so good! I'm going to have to make some. I don't like pureeing soup in the blender though, mainly because my blender sucks (it was a free gift with purchase at Macy's) if you don't have one I should get you one of those immersion blenders, I love mine and use it constantly!
You are probably right about the cereal, most likely I will be spending a lot on cereal to try out new recipes too, maybe this wasn't such a good idea!

Cereal Lady said...

p.s.- I want the bread recipe too, cough it up!

Cereal Lady said...

you can email me at megancake@gmail.com, i'd love your moms recipe, matts been bugging me to make a "pumpkin roll" but I'm not a huge fan so maybe pumpkin bread would satisfy him.