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.