October, the month of tricksters and changes. It's been an uneasy month over here, between my entrance into the third trimester of pregnancy and the weather's stubborn refusal to do anything but tremble precariously on the edge of autumn. Heat still rises in shimmering waves from the sidewalk, and underneath summer dresses, my flushed and always sweaty body slowly continues to swell like a Halloween pumpkin. I am simultaneously fanning myself and dreaming of fall's creamy soups and warm apple cider, dreaming of the trio that will be our family going apple picking this time next year. Weather permitting, of course.
Speaking of the third trimester, it's starting to wear me down a bit, finally. Things ache and parts of me complain at the slightest movement--my bones literally feel unsteady, like my spine might just teeter off its axis and come crashing down onto my pelvis. Unlikely, I know. But the pain is real. And yet every time it all feels overwhelming, the little human inside me kicks ripples into my belly and I realize, you're here, you're real, you'e coming soon, this is all part of the most amazing thing I've ever done, and then I'm washed clean again and smiling comes a bit easier. On those days when I'm hot and cranky and bone-weary and everything feels just a little bit impossible, I like a nice, easy evening meal. This simple pumpkin soup--given an earthy edge by a splash of ale, sharpness from cheese, and just a hint of sage & cream--is perfect for the days of late October no matter what the temperature outside (and whether or not you're gestating a tiny human). Paired with something savory and green (I love it with a hearty schmear of my kale pesto on a slice of bread), it's a complete fall meal in almost no time at all.
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
2 cans of pumpkin puree (30 oz total)
8 sage leaves
1/2 bottle mild ale
1/2 cup grated parmesan (another sharp, aged cheese like pecorino would also be great here)
2 tablespoons honey
salt & pepper to taste
2/3 cup cream
Handful of roasted salted pepitas (for garnish, optional but recommended)
Heat a large soup pot over medium, add butter and onion. Cook, stirring often, until onion is softened and translucent (about five minutes). Add stock, water, pumpkin, sage, ale and parmesan, then remove from heat and use an immersion blender (or carefully transfer to a standing blender) to blend until smooth.
Lower heat to medium and return soup to burner, allow to simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, add honey, taste and add salt & pepper until satisfied. Add cream and stir until fully incorporated into soup. Finish by ladling in bowls and garnishing with roasted, salted pepitas before serving.