Day 3 of 31 days of pumpkin brings us to a savory recipe.
The secret to this pumpkin soup isn’t the sage (that’s in the title after all). It’s the fact that the onions are caramelized first. Caramelizing onions takes a bit of time (about 30 minutes, in fact), but it’s well worth it to bring out the sweet, nutty flavor hidden inside. The trick to caramelizing onions is to keep the temperature very low while they are sautéeing. Caramel is created when sugar undergoes controlled pyrolysis – the chemical decomposition that happens when organic stuff gets hot. If it gets too hot, then it gets charred. Char creates the familiar grill marks on a perfectly grilled steak. We’re not charring the onions, we’re trying to decompose the sugars in such a controlled way that they turn into caramel and that takes controlled temperature for a long time.
3 Tbsp unsalted butter or 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 lb fresh pumpkin, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large garnet yam, peel and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 Tbsp chopped, fresh sage and sage for garnish
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
6 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)
1. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, melt 3 Tbsp of butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with butter. Sautée gently, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes. Make sure that onions to over-brown. If necessary, add a little bit of water or a touch of olive oil towards the end to slow down the browning process.
2. Add pumpkin and yams and stir to coat with caramelized onions. Increase heat to medium. Sautée for 5-10 minutes until yams and pumpkin pieces have softened and browned a little. Add chicken stock and sage and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, before moving to the blender step. When liquefying soup in a blender, hold the lid on tight. For some reason, hot liquids are more likely to cause upward pressure on the lid, leading to splatters and/or burns. Ouch. So, using a tea towel, hold the lid tightly on the blender while blending the soup in batches. Return the soup to a clean pot.
4. Stir in the cream and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Warm the soup over medium heat.
5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with one sage leaf and a few roasted pumpkin seeds.