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Pumpkin Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS
Pumpkin Soup
¼ cup butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
3 cups chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon each: black pepper, grated nutmeg, and dried thyme
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Parmesan Croutons
3 cups cubed French bread (½-inch cubes)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/8 teaspoon each: kosher salt and black pepper

½ cup crème fraiche*
6 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces, cooked until crisp
¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. To prepare pumpkin soup: melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat until butter is foamy and turns a light golden brown (about 2 minutes). Add onions and garlic; saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add white wine and simmer for 2 minutes, or until liquid has reduced. Add chicken broth, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, thyme and cayenne pepper; stir to blend. Simmer for 10 minutes or until fully heated. Remove from heat.
4. Working in several smaller batches, puree in a food processor fitted with a steel blade or blender until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan. Add heavy cream and simmer over low heat until fully heated. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Keep warm.
5. To prepare Parmesan croutons: combine bread cubes and melted butter in a large bowl and toss to coat. Add Parmesan, parsley, salt and black pepper; toss to blend. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until light golden brown, stirring halfway through baking. Set aside.
6. To serve: ladle soup into bowls. Top each with a drizzle of crème fraiche, Parmesan croutons, crisp bacon pieces, shaved Parmesan cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.

*If you’d like to make your own crème fraiche, simply put 1 cup whipping cream into a glass bowl and add 2 T. buttermilk. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 8-24 hours. Refrigerate any unused portion for up to two weeks.

Poppy hasn’t quite discovered what she wants to do with her life—that is, until she takes a temporary job as nanny to Zoe and Zach right before Halloween. Their dad, Ryan, is launching a “Food With Friends” app and working around the clock to please a major investor. When his business associate, Abigail, unexpectedly shows up while Ryan, his kids and Poppy are playing football in the yard, Ryan invites Abigail to dinner. “We’re making pumpkin pasta, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie. Pretty much anything pumpkin!” says Ryan. Poppy graciously serves a savory pumpkin soup—this version is topped with buttery-crisp croutons, shredded cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of crème fraiche. Make it for your own family and discover the warmth of a lovely October night!