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Velvety Pumpkin Soup

It's a good thing this soup tastes so good.  Slicing, seeding and peeling a pumpkin is no small task.  I'm not gonna lie.  It's a royal pain in the patooty. At one point, as I was covered in sticky, orange strings and nursing a minor knife cut on my finger, I considered throwing in the towel and ordering pizza. 

I'm so glad I didn't.

Earlier in the week, my mom mailed me a handmade book of pumpkin recipes from an old Victoria magazine.  She's so good at "snail mail" and often sends me homemade cards and little surprises, just because.   I had a couple of pumpkins on hand from our CSA, Great Country Farms, so it was the perfect time to try out several pumpkin recipes.

I made a few recipes, including sweet and spicy toasted pumpkin seeds and a vegetarian chili with chunks of pumpkin.  Hands down, though, my favorite recipe was this pumpkin soup.

Once you get past the nasty peeling, seeding and slicing bit, the soup really is pretty simple.  You start by finely chopping the base flavors -- lots and lots of shallots and leeks.  These wonderfully mild onion-cousins (yes, I made that up...) are added to a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a few tablespoons of butter.   Sounds good already, right?

After the shallots and leeks have softened in the butter, add vegetable stock and then...forget about it.  Well, sort of.  The pumpkin simmers in the stock for about half an hour until it softens.  You'll just need to stir it a few times.  When the pumpkin is soft, toss it all into a blender to puree.  Better yet, if you have an immersion blender, you can puree it directly in the pot.

If you stopped there, you'd have a deliciously simple soup.  The recipe calls for adding a fancy shmancy wild mushroom garnish and an apple cider reduction.  I'm not a huge fan of wild mushrooms, so I made my garnish with crimini (baby portobello) mushrooms.  The cider reduction, mixed with cream, was fine, but I think not really necessary.  The cooked mushrooms added some nice textural contrast, but could be left out as well.  Whether you decide to go fancy shmancy or not, I think you'll really enjoy this velvety fall soup.

Here's the proof.