Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Curried Pumpkin & Apple Soup in Baked Squash Bowls

One of the most beautiful times of the year, Autumn also means colder weather, heavy sweaters and the occasional rain jacket. It’s also harvest time, with its dazzling array of apples, pumpkins and squash, which provides the perfect seasonal backdrop for a cornucopia of culinary opportunities. With an abundant crop of apples on our terrace this year, and the glorious parade of sensational squash and pumpkins in the market, it seemed the perfect time to celebrate with this delicious and spectacular Curried Pumpkin & Apple Soup served in baked Sweet Dumpling Squash bowls.

Harvesting our own apples in our eight floor downtown condominium garden 
is one of the most surprising and gratifying gifts of the year

A mountain of Squash from Brooklands Farm...

...as well as the seasonal Halloween pumpkin patch

Using baked hollowed-out pumpkin or squash for use as a bowl, can take any dish — a humble soup, seafood curry, vegetarian pilaf — to another level altogether. Simple to prepare with maximum visual appeal, I had been wanting to try this technique since seeing a Curried Basmati Rice with Dried Fruit and Roasted Squash at the Brooklands Farm Harvest Hoe Down earlier this autumn. Although I used a Sweet Dumpling Squash, any attractive squash will do, such as acorn, turban or even miniature pumpkins. The tops of the squash are sliced off, the pulp and seeds removed, and the insides seasoned with a little sugar and salt. Bunged in the oven for half an hour, the resulting baked bowls are a feast for eyes as well as the tummy. 

The tops of the squash are sliced off

The seeds and fibres are removed, although the seeds could be saved, 
boiled, seasoned and baked as a garnish

Placed on a baking sheet, the squash are cooked at 400°F for 30 minutes

Beautiful edible bowls of pure perfection

While the squash are baking for half an hour, the soup can easily be prepared, with both coming together at the same time. Chopped onions, garlic and apples are added to a large saucepan with a tablespoon of butter, and sautéed until soft, about 6 minutes. Curry powder is then added with the addition of chicken or vegetable broth a moment later. Brought to a boil, then covered and allowed to simmer for 5 minutes, pumpkin purée is added to the mixture and blended with a hand immersion blender. A few tablespoons of maple syrup — a quintessential Canadian ingredient — adds a lovely sweetness to this savoury soup, although honey could work too. A healthy dollop of cream finished the soup. Ladled into the baked squash and garnished with a final swirl of cream, chopped chives or some baby sage, you're done. Sit back and enjoy the accolades coming your way.

Chopped onion and minced garlic

A tablespoon of butter is melted in a large saucepan

Two peeled, seeded and chopped apples are added and sautéed for about 5-6 minutes

A teaspoon of fragrant curry powder is added...

...and sautéed another minute

Chicken broth is added and brought to a boil, then covered and simmered for 10 minutes

Pumpkin purée, a leftover from my Pumpkin Cheesecake with Praline Sauce, 
makes a second entrance...waste not, want not

The pumpkin purée is added to the soup and stirred to combine

The misture is puréed with a hand immersion blender

Brooklands Farm maple syrup — the best!

Two tablespoons of maple syrup is added, or more if you like a sweeter soup

I add four tablespoons of cream, but season to taste accordingly to your preference

Stir to combine

The baked squash are ladled with the Curried Pumpkin & Apple Soup, 
and presented at the table with the lids laid on top...

...or with the lids angled askew with a festive garnish

Curried Pumpkin & Apple Soup in Baked Squash Bowls
Serves 4

Pumpkin Bowls:
4 small baking pumpkins, such as sweet dumpling or acorn squash
2 tsp sugar
Kosher salt

1 tbsp butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin purée
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tbsp heavy cream, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp chopped chives or baby sage, for garnish

To make the bowls, preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a paring knife to cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin. Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibres. Sprinkle the inside of each pumpkin with 1/2 teaspoon of both sugar and salt. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 20 to 35 minutes depending on their size.

Meanwhile, start to make the soup by melting the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, apple and minced garlic and sauté until they become soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the curry powder and sauté another minute. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a hand immersion blender or food processor, purée the mixture until smooth. If necessary, return the soup to the pan and rewarm on medium-low. Stir in the maple syrup and cream, and adjust to taste.

To serve, ladle the warm soup into the baked squash bowls and garnish with additional cream and chopped chives. Place the lids slight ajar on top of each pumpkin and enjoy!