In October, I had the good fortune to go to a little town in Connecticut to celebrate my favorite TV show. I saw many wonderful people and had a great time, despite the cold incessant rain. Bone chilling rain. All. Weekend. Long.
Needless to say, soup was definitely on the mind.
This month’s book: Z by Therese Anne Fowler
The holidays call for elegant food. However, the rich stuff you normally eat doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. So how about this for a change: white pumpkin chestnut soup. It’s a great January soup, really. No cream or fat really, aside from a tiny bit of olive oil. It is complex in flavors and very pretty!
The original recipe calls for cooking the fresh pumpkin chunks in the broth and then pureeing and seasoning everything. However, I tend to make an afternoon of roasting, pureeing, and freezing fresh pumpkins in the fall/winter. Especially when I have been given pretty white pumpkins! Standard orange sugar pumpkins will also work. The most important thing is not to use canned pumpkin. It will be too thick and is most likely already sweetened.
White Pumpkin Soup with Roasted Chestnuts
Adapted from Manger
1 large onion, small dice
4 c chicken broth
1 large pumpkin, roasted and pureed
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
20-25 roasted chestnuts, broken into 4 to 6 pieces
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add chicken broth and pumpkin puree to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Add seasonings to taste. Serve with 3-4 chestnuts sprinkled over the top.
This recipe is the Best Stew with Olives winner according to Food52, and I certainly agree it is delicious. The next few weeks are going to bring about many changes: moving in with my fiance, moving to a new state, starting a new job, still trying to plan a wedding from another state.
Naturally, this has brought about a need for comfort food. I often to turn British food when I want comforting. Mashed potatoes and onion gravy. Crispy-skinned sausages. Toad in a hole. Chicken tikka masala.
Even from this sad photo taken by my phone, you can tell Arona is like a slice of heaven. I didn’t take any other pictures of my afternoon there because I was too busy soaking it all in. Apologizes. You will just have to go visit it yourself.
Amongst some of the less fun things I did while in Italy was helping clean out my grandparents’ house. While they live in the city, they kept my grandmother’s parents’ home in the country. We would go there to play in the garden or learn to ride our bikes. It was where I learned to eat raspberries from the vine and made myself sick eating too many kiwis which grew over the garage.
Sometimes, when my family came to visit, we would all live down there for a week or two. While the church bells tolling through the night can be annoying, the day-long bike rides through the risaia were well worth it. Now the house is up for sale and we must remove the furniture, clothes, books, and knick-knacks which have accumulated over the years.
This is not the pasta and fagioli you know from Olive Garden. It is absolutely not pasta fazul. No tomatoes. No garlic.
Family legend says that when I was a toddler, my parents and I went up to Nova Scotia. While there, I took a serious liking to clam chowder. Apparently, I ate it at every meal for the remainder of our time there. It has been my favorite ever since.
I do not hold any love for its traitorous, not at all tasty cousin, Manhattan Clam Chowder. It doesn’t deserve the name. There have been some times that I have been fooled. I would order what was clearly labeled as “Clam Chowder” and would be given a bowl on tomato-nonsense. Now I specify that it should be New England.