pumpkin soup with gruyère

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, even though it’s October, my favorite month of the year. My trip to the Napa Valley last weekend helped snap me out of it for those several days, but I can feel that blah feeling coming back on already. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m about to be sequestered away at work for a couple of weeks, living on cafeteria food for lunch and – more likely than not – dinner. Or maybe it’s just because everyday life has gotten hectic. Those of you with kids in school and busy jobs and sick family members and the occasional family crisis know what I’m talking about.

When I start feeling this way, with good case of the Blahs, I crave comfort foods. I skipped a Gator football game a couple of weekends ago to stay home and make soup. That’s right. I stayed home and missed a game – homecoming, even – to make soup.

And it felt great.

As it turned out, I had the entire late afternoon and evening to myself. The kids were off with my sister-in-law, having a sleepover with their cousins, and my husband was at the football game with some friends.

That afternoon of solitude and slicing and chopping and stirring and sticky, slimy pumpkin innards was exactly what I needed.

I remembered something that day two weeks ago when I made pumpkin soup. I always think it’s the comfort food that I crave when I get the blues, but really, it’s the cooking. It’s the process.

That Saturday afternoon, as I picked up my chef’s knife and steadied the pumpkin on the cutting board, I felt the heaviness I’d been carrying begin to lift off my shoulders. I didn’t even really want the soup at that point. I just wanted to make it.

Pumpkin Soup with Gruyère

Adapted from this recipe from Fine Cooking. Serves 4 as main course, 6 as an appetizer. Note: This recipe calls for 6 cups of diced pumpkin. I was able to get this amount from two large grapefruit-sized pie pumpkins.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
6 cups 1-inch diced peeled, seeded pumpkin
1 small sweet potato, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 medium fresh sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
4 to 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup packed grated Gruyère, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


Melt the butter in a heavy duty 4- to 5-quart pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and sweet potato and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the wine and sage leaves and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir in 4 cups of broth, cover, and simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until the pumpkin and sweet potato are very tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of Gruyère and stir to incorporate. Using a handheld or standard blender, purée the soup (in batches if necessary). Season to taste with salt and pepper [Note: I needed to add about 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt for my seasoning preference.].

Return to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly and adding more broth as necessary to achieve a thin soup with the consistency of heavy cream. Serve warm. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg and a hefty grating of Gruyère.

To make ahead: The soup can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate; reheat to serve.

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25 Responses to “a good day and tres leches cake”

  1. Adriana — April 27, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    Loved the story of the donkey farm. In one of my first trips out to California, I had a friend stop the car so I could take a picture of farmed ostrich, which I had never seen before. I didn’t try to reach out for them, but it was awesome just stopping and seeing them in all their tall, live glory. If I had fun and didn’t even get to see one at arm’s length, I can only imagine how happy your kids were! I love tres leches cake, but haven’t tried to make it myself. So many people do a great job with it around these parts! My favorite version is actually called ‘Cuatro Leches’, which also has dulce de leche in it.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — April 27th, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

      Oh, I bet you have access to some amazing versions of this cake. I cannot imagine adding dulce de leche to this cake – I might never stop eating it.

  2. Amy | She Wears Many Hats — April 27, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

    I’ve yet to make a tres leches cake yet, and I don’t know why. It does look mighty fine. Mighty fine indeed.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — April 27th, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

      Oh, you should totally make one, Amy.

  3. First off, the story of Oliver wanting to see Eyeore made me smile ear-to-ear… those photos are so cute. Second, tres leches cake has been on my list for several months to make. After this ringing endorsement, I might just have to tackle it this weekend!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — April 27th, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

      You won’t be disappointed, Kimmy. I promise. 🙂

  4. Brian @ A Thought For Food — April 27, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    So adorable! What a cute story!

    And now you have me drooling over this cake. How divine that looks!

  5. DessertForTwo — April 27, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    Tres leches and pineapple upside down cake fight for #1 cake in my book. Yours looks great!!

  6. Donna — April 27, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    Thank you so much for posting the tres leches cake recipe and delictable photos. For Easter I made my totally trashing (but delicious) cake that we call “Orgasmic Coconut Cake.” The original name of the cake was “Decadent Coconut Cake” but at some point my cousin got confused and now the misnomer has stuck. At Christmas I made tres leches and on Sunday two of my nieces asked for the recipe. All I had to do was direct them to your blog for both the recipe and photos. Perfect timing!

  7. This cake looks phenomenal! So moist! I completely agree with you about homemade whipped cream (I say this right after I posted a cake with cool whip frosting-ha).

  8. So wonderful that you had perfect day! The cake looks amazing and just wish I had a slice in front of me right now.

  9. Adora's Box — April 28, 2011 @ 8:37 am

    Aren’t donkeys just so cute. Now that my children are grown, I really miss those squeals of delight when they see animals. We are not in tune with tres leches cake here in the UK although I’ve heard of it. Gosh, that sounds really decadent and wicked. Three kinds of milk and heavy cream! Wow!

  10. Lynda — April 28, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    This cake sounds and looks sublime. Lovely post!

  11. Lora @cakeduchess — April 28, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

    Oliver is adorable petting the eeyore. I am also never as happy as when my children are:)Such a sweet post. Your tres leches cake is making me HUNGRY! Looks fantastic MJ:)

  12. Joy — April 28, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

    I love love tres leche cake. That looks wonderful.

  13. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — April 28, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

    Sounds like an amazing day… And, the cake looks equally perfect! Can’t wait to give the recipe a try.

  14. marla — April 29, 2011 @ 8:06 am

    Your tres leches cake looks wonderful, but that time with your family is precious and priceless. Love that you found the Eeyore farm for your son 🙂

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — April 29th, 2011 @ 10:26 am

      Thanks, Marla. Yes – you’re right. The day with the family was just wonderful. One of those seemingly-rare days when everyone is in a good mood and there’s very little bickering. And then the donkeys were the icing on the cake. 🙂

  15. Anita Menon — April 30, 2011 @ 7:09 am

    A lovely day out with family. Nothing beats that!
    The tres leches cake seems like the best thing in the world right now. I have book marked it. thank you for sharing:-)

  16. Aggie — April 30, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

    That Eeyore story has got to be the sweetest story ever. How awesome to run into a couple of Eeyore’s on the side of the road…

    And the cake. I can seriously just taste it. Even though I am not even sure I’ve ever had it or know what it would taste like. I’m going to save this recipe for a special treat, I have a feeling it will wow anyone I serve it to.

  17. Katty's Kitchen — April 30, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

    I love this story–and what is NOT to love about tres leches cake! I refer to myself in Eeyore terms when I’m having a gloomy day and say I need to nail my tail back on just as soon as I can find it! 🙂 A good day for you and Oliver, too!

  18. Mauna — May 1, 2011 @ 12:16 am

    James just made this for my parents. It was a huge hit with everyone. My mom deemed him the ultimate son-in-law!

  19. TheGourmetCoffeeGuy — May 5, 2011 @ 12:47 am

    Delightful story. Donkeys are actually very intelligent animals and have some characteristics that make them excellent companions for farmers in many parts of the world. The Tres Leches Cake sounds incredible, moist and hard to put down… Nice photos, thank you for sharing.

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