Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkin Soup via A KITCHEN IN FRANCE - Recipe and Cookbook Review

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Day two of my dinner party review...

Yesterday I posted a review of of "A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse " by Mimi Thorisson.

First, my disclaimer... I received this book FREE! courtesy of BLOGGING FOR BOOKS.  I was sent the book in exchange for this review.  The book was theirs, but the opinions are mine.

I posted my first course for a dinner party for 8 of my family and friends; Her Onion Tart recipe... (LOVED IT!).

The short version of my longer review of the book (see yesterday's post) is the book is astounding.  Stunningly beautiful photographs, wonderful descriptions of her family and life in the French countryside and of course wonderful recipes.  I made 6 dishes for my party and each came out as expected, and wonderful!

I served in courses, First course was to be a Soup and Sandwich.  I sort of fudged the sandwich and served the Onion Tart as the sandwich.  This soup was my offering.

The book is divided up seasonally.  Cook what's fresh and local is Mimi's mantra.  Plus, post Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving, there are PLENTY of beautiful little "Pie Pumpkins" available to make this fresh.

I did make a couple of changes.  I am posting the recipe as she wrote, as a part of the review.  My changes were needed for making the party work (6 dishes, all served hot and on time)... So I converted to Crock Pot Slow Cooker Easy.

The second change was more personal taste.  I tasted the soup once it had been pureed.  For me, my tastes run to the more spicy side of flavors.  I had a jar of my BBQ Spice rub handy and just decided that that flavor would be a fine addition.  On the page to her book that discusses the recipe she mentions that the soup is a favorite with her children.  I can understand that as is, it would have been perfect for a younger palate.  As for me and my guests... A tiny extra kick added a little something something extra.

And isn't that the mark of a favorite cookbook.  Not only can you make a recipe with confidence that the dish will work, but that it also inspires you to adapt, change and make it work to your individual tastes.

Loved this soup.  Nice and thick and rich.  The Pumpkin and Parsnips flavors shine through.  Just a great seasonal soup.

Dare I suggest Thanksgiving dinner???

OK... Here's what She says to do did
(but keep scrolling to see my changes)...

Pumpkin Soup 

  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 Small Shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Mincedm
  • 1-1/2 Pounds / 600 g Pumpkin, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 5 Ounces / 150 g Parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • Fine Sea Salt and Freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups / 750 ml Whole Milk, more if needed
  • 1-1/4 Cups / 300 ml Vegetable Stock
  • For the Garnish - 3/4 Cups / 300 ml Creme Fraiche
  • 1/2 Cup / 60 g Walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • A few Fresh Chives, finely chopped, plus more for serving
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large pot, heat the Olive Oil over medium heat. Add the Shallots and Garlic and cook until lightly brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the Pumpkin and Parsnips, season with Salt and Pepper, and cook for 8 minutes.
  2. Pour in the Milk and Vegetable Stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat , cover, simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup in batches in a blender. adding a little milk or water if the soup is on the thick side, Season with Salt and Pepper.
  4. FOR THE GARNISH, mix together the Creme Fraiche, Walnuts and Chives.
  5. Divide the soup among bowls and top with a spoonful of the mixture and another sprinkling of Chives.
I made two big changes to her recipe... First, I very much wanted to make this ahead of time...  Crock Pot easy as I like to say.  I followed the first step exactly.  Then I dumped everything in step 2 into the crock pot and set the cooker on High.  2 hours later the pumpkin and parsnips were soft and cooked through,  Instead of pureeing in batches I just used a hand wand mixer and pureed in the slow cooker.

Turning the setting down to low, the soup was done and ready to be served hot from the crock at my convenience.  Made serving for the party much easier.

Second, Once the soup had been pureed, I tasted.  Honestly, while the soup was full of flavor, the pumpkin really stood out, I decided to add a little BBQ spice rub mix.  Only 2 TBS.  the rub has a little Brown sugar, some additional salt and pepper as well as "regular" BBQ type seasonings... Smoked paprika, Garlic and Onion Powder and some additional hot pepper spice.  It maybe my Kansas roots or my love of BBQ, but I thought the extra spice woke the soup up a bit.

As always, cooks should taste and season to taste.... I did.

I served this soup with the Onion Tart that I wrote about yesterday.

Here's my Menu for the night...

Pumpkin Soup
With an Onion Tart

Gambas Flambees
With Pastis

Roast Chicken With
Creme Fraiche and Herbs
Served with a
Butternut Squash

PLUS and AMAZING Spectacular
Chocolate Meringue Swirl

As I said, Each of the 6 recipes I tried from the book worked and worked spectacularly.  I have been doing a lot of non-challenging catering dishes lately.  It was fun and exciting to whip these dishes up and serve this menu to my friends.  All well received, all went as best as I could have imagined and I could not recommend this book highly enough.

Beautiful enough to be a table top book, inspiring enough to get lost in on a rainy Sunday afternoon...

And wonderful accessible workable recipes!

And one last disclaimer...
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."  But the review and opinions are 100% accurate and mine!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Recipes for Soup, Chili or Chowder" (Now more than 52 and still growing)

Soup from Scratch is one of the great kitchen joys.  The house smells amazing and the soup warms to the bone.  From broth to chowder, vegetarian to loaded up chili... Even a great idea for a party (love the Potato Soup Bar idea).  Come take a look, sure to have something you might like to try.  All recipes have been tested and WORK!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of "52 Ways to Cook SLOW COOKER-CROCK POT Easy Recipes"!!!

From meat dishes (Like an AMAZING Root Beer Pulled Pork that will feed a small army), to kitchen staples (FREE Gallon of Chicken Stock anyone?) to a slew of Soup and Stew recipes, these are the dishes that will change the way you cook.  Start in the morning, set and forget and dinner is on the table... Easy Peasy indeed!!!


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