Monday, September 29, 2008

Munson's Farm Stand: Pumpkin Bisque

You cannot mistake the signs of Autumn and if you happen to drive by 75Th and Valmont, in Boulder, Colorado, stop in and say hi to the Munsons. Their pumpkins are gorgeous! 

Pumpkins and winter squash are beginning to show up everywhere, and I am  already receiving several requests for fall pumpkin and squash ideas. I promise to keep everyone well stocked with recipes, as long as you do your part and head to the farmer's markets  and farm stands to stock up.

 Winter squash are hearty vegetables and according to Bob Munson, at Munson Sweet Corn,  if stored properly, we can have squash all thru April or May. Properly stored means; a  cool dry place, with no extreme temperatures.  A garage is not safe unless it is heated and refrigerators are not the best place either. Basements are a good choice if you have one, and the boxes need to be on a shelf, off the ground to keep from attracting unwanted furry guests.

Well, let's think about this for a moment. Winter squash all season with no running to the grocery store until mid spring? You bet! Stocking up now supports our local farmers, lowers our carbon foot print, and it's economical too. I see this as a culinary challenge and I am up for the experiment! I plan to buy enough winter squash to last until mid-April, and I will offer one new recipe each week using various varieties of squash.  
Three good things can happen. One, we will test the shelf life of squash and become experts on "squash sustainability". Two, we will be pushed to try creative and interesting ways to use what we have.  Three,  you will spend a little less time running to the supermarket to buy ingredients because you bought and stored your vegetables already this fall! Sounds Green to me.  I see this as a win-win community project. Anyone willing to try? Appetizers to dessert. All simple ingredients with exceptional flavor.

Recipe one: a good faith recipe.
I made this Pumpkin/Squash Bisque recipe for the Longmont Farmer's Market and it was a hit. Use your favorite variety of squash.  Please note, I do not add apples, ginger, sugar, or too many savory spices to this soup. Primarily for one reason, I want you to taste the simple beauty of squash/pumpkin. Too many times, exceptional produce is lost with all the "extra" flavorings of the moment.  It is time we relearn how to taste real food.  This is the perfect beginning. As always,

I will see you at the market.

Chef Deb T.

Pumpkin Bisque
Makes a pot

4 Lbs. pumpkin/squash, cut in half and seeded (save seeds for toasting, yes winter squash seeds work too!)
1 Tbl Olive oil
2 Tbl butter
1/2 onion chopped
2 gloves garlic
1 BG (Bouquet Garni= 1 Bay leaf, 4 stems thyme, 2 Stems of Parsley w/o leaves, & 6 peppercorns) Wrapped in cheesecloth, (I use a large tea strainer that closes) or throw it all in the pot and fish is out later.
4-5 cups veggie stock or water
Heavy Cream (optional, but adds richness) 1/2 cup is a good start
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Good Fruity Olive oil, or walnut oil (optional)

Toasted or grilled croutons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place pumpkin/squash face down on a sheet pan (you can put down parchment or foil to make cleaning easier), add a 1/2-cup of water and bake until tender. Begin checking pumpkin after 20 minutes of baking. The pumpkin is ready when you can insert the tip of a paring knife and it slides in and removes easily. Remove sheet pan from oven and cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and reserve for soup, this can be done several days before soup is made.

In a soup pot, add butter and sauté onions for 5 minutes, and then add garlic, BG, Stock (I use water when I want the pure taste of my squash to come through) and pumpkin. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove BG. Puree soup in batches in Blender/ Vitamix.

Return soup to pot, add more water if soup is too thick, and cream if desired, and add 2 tsp kosher salt. Taste. Adjust seasoning; most likely it will need a squeeze of lemon juice (a dash of dry sherry is nice) and more salt and pepper.
Keep warm until ready to serve.

To Serve: Ladle soup into warm bowls and garnish with a few toasted croutons or roasted pumpkins/squash seeds saved from these pumpkins! Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

**This soup freezes well without the cream, which can be added as it is being reheated.


Jenn said...

Dear Chef Deb,
We love your new Blog! The pictures, commentary, and ideas are terrific. Dave and I are willing to give your "green" cooking idea a try this year. We love every kind of squash, so we'll buy many pounds next weekend at the Longmont farmer's market and store as you suggest. Looking forward to a long, sweet, chilly, squashy winter!
Jenn & Dave
Longmont, CO

Deb T. said...

Hi Jenn, Thank You!

Great to see you both at the market, and I am sorry I ran out of samples before you both arrived.
I am glad you are willing to give this a go.... In order to have enough squash to winter over till April, you will need to buy about 24 squash. Check to see if your favorite farms offer case discounts. Many will let you have a variety in one case. I will post a list of squash available in our area and you can choose the ones you like the most. Personally, I am hoping to try a few new things this winter too.
Chef Deb
P.S. We can do a nice pumpkin ice cream or gelato (with a REAL Scotch butterscotch sauce) now that you have your new ice cream maker!!