Can you feel the weather starting to change? Are your mornings and evenings getting a little cooler? We hate to say goodbye to summer but autumn is right around the corner. It is sad to bid farewell to the hot and sunny days, to swimming in the pool and picnicking at the beach. It is hard to say goodbye to colourful cocktails on the deck and long dinners on the patio. I wish we could hold on just a little bit longer but alas, mother nature has other plans for us. We are about to welcome the season of fall. It is one of the prettiest seasons in Quebec. As the temperature drops, the leaves start to transform into vibrant hues of yellow, orange, red and gold. The air is a lot crisper and you need a sweater to protect you from the cold, fresh air.
We look forward to the harvest season; visiting a local farm and picking apples right off the trees or pumpkins straight out of the patch. We get convinced to order anything “pumpkin spice” as it is the flavour of the season. Our meals become a little heartier as we brace ourselves for the cruellest of seasons; old man winter.
Fall in Montreal is a magical season and if you are into wine tasting, there are many vineyards as close as thirty minutes away from the city center to explore. You can request a tour of the winery and sample the different selections of wines. Quebec is also known for its ice wine that is made from grapes that are starting to freeze. The ice wine is very sweet and delicious when served ice cold with dessert.
In honour of Fall in Montreal, I am delighted to share my recipe for pumpkin soup with all of you. I cannot wait to head over to the farm to pick a variety of squash and pumpkins to cook with and to decorate for Halloween.
For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- one large pumpkin
- 2 litres of chicken stock
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 large carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 cup of cubed pancetta (Italian bacon)
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- chili oil for garnish
- toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
You start by cutting the pumpkin in slices and scooping out the seeds. Season the slices with salt and pepper and drizzle them in olive oil. Bake them for approximately 1 hour or until flesh is softened in a 350 degree oven. In a large pot, heat up olive oil. Add diced onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Cook until translucent, stirring often. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned. Add the pumpkin in cubes, making sure to only use the flesh. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken stock. Bring to a slow boil and then reduce the heat to low. Let the soup simmer for at least 45 minutes. Use this time to lightly toast the pumpkin seeds. Use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth. Add the heavy cream and continue to cook on low heat until well blended.
You don’t need much salt as the pancetta adds a lot of salt to the dish. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
Garnish the soup with toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of chili oil. A lot of recipes call for nutmeg as it pairs well with pumpkin but I don’t like the taste of nutmeg so I omit it from the recipe.
I have replaced the pumpkin with squash and it has turned out really well. You may want to try that if you are intimidated by the large pumpkins.