"The thinnest yellow light of November is more warming and exhilarating than any wine they tell of.The mite which November contributes becomes equal in value to the bounty of July."- Henry David Thoreau
Just about my favorite time of year, autumn, it is. I know it's a favorite of many. And if the food blogs and Pinterest boards are any indication, so many of us love to usher in the first cool, crisp, snaps of fall with hearty, warm, soul-nurturing soups. All kinds of soup. I love the bright red bowlful of fall's last tomatoes, all whirled into a creamy, tangy treat. And I delight in the first bowl of dark, smoky broth swimming with seafood, or chicken, and andouille sausage that is my beloved gumbo. My husband loves a peppery bowl of potato and leek chowder with the occasional chunk of kielbasa. And at least one weekend will be spent preparing chicken and vegetable soups from the stock we've made of roosters that simply outstayed their welcome.
But, for both of us, the days after that evening when so many precious princesses, and space creatures, and goblins, and ghosts visit, are traditionally spent preparing a bisque we'll enjoy throughout the chilly days of autumn and winter. It's a favorite among friends and family, too.
And perfect for the cold season, too. Because this soup—this bowl of goodness—it's our medicine. It's really quite healthy—full of vitamins and antioxidants that support the immune system, and our favorite feature--a slight slow burn on the back of the tongue as a sort of culinary afterthought—soothing to the throat during the occasional bout of sniffles we're sure to endure. At the first sign of a tender throat, we're likely to pass the bottle of cough syrup by for a jar of this simple peanut pumpkin bisque.
We start with our own pumpkin, roasted and pureed, then frozen, but don't let the absence of one, or the aversion to that project keep you from tackling this soup. We've used canned puree, before, too. If you choose to go that route, you'll want to adjust the seasonings a bit—canned puree tends to have added sugar, but with a little extra salt, spice, or acid, the sweetness can be balanced. Play around a little with it. We've also used home-canned tomatoes, which were lightly seasoned with salt and lemon juice, however, in their absence, we've also used Pomi brand chopped tomatoes, and their juices, from a carton. I'm partial to the carton because those tomatoes do not fall victim to the reactions that commercially canned tomatoes do— that slight metallic taste that spoils many delicate soups, although some canned tomatoes are now packaged in coated cans, to prevent that concern.
Yields 6 entrée servings, 8 starters.
- 4 cups pureed pumpkin
- 3 cups chopped tomatoes with their juices
- 1 whole chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce with a tsp of additional sauce
- ½ cup peanut butter—I use chunky because I like the little bits of peanut, but smooth is fine, too.
- 1-2T apple cider vinegar, to taste
- 1 pint half and half— we use half and half to reduce the fat which heavy whipping cream would add, but if you're watching your fat intake, you can reduce the full amount to 8 ounces.
- Salt, to taste
- Garnish—1T sour cream or crème fraiche (you can even make your own--see this link) for each bowl, chopped roasted peanuts, and fresh thyme
In a medium stock pot, combine pumpkin, tomatoes, chipotle chile in adobo, peanut butter, and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Run an immersion blender through pot until tomatoes and pepper are well blended and pureed. Press soup through a chinois or sieve. (or, in absence of immersion blender and sieve, puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Soup will remain a bit thicker, but still quite nice). Return to stock pot, and off the burner, stir in half in half. Add salt, to taste, and adjust seasonings.
Serve in a soup bowl or soup plate, garnished with a tablespoon of sour cream or crème fraiche gently transferred to the center of the soup, sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and chopped fresh thyme.
"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content."|- Lin Yutang