Makes: 8 servings
Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Classic and delicious!
1 (4-pound) sugar baby pumpkin, cut in half and seeds removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-dice bacon (about 3 slices)
1/2 cup small-dice shallots (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup dry (fino) sherry
2 cups stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream
Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rub the cut halves of the pumpkin with the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet cut-side up and roast until fragrant, tender when pierced with a fork, and golden brown, about 70 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.
Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh, place it in a medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups), and set it aside.
Place the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook until crispy and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a small paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.
Add the shallots to the bacon fat, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock or broth, water, thyme, and reserved pumpkin and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors have melded, about 10 minutes.
Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam from the hot soup to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Place the blended soup in a clean saucepan. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the reserved bacon and the croutons, if using.
MR. PORTER AND MS. CHARLES CULINARY CRAVINGS
Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. But, it takes two to tango so stay tuned to see who will master the steam oven first, or whether Mr. Porter or Ms. Charles comes up with the best new recipes.
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