Monday, October 25, 2010

Ichabod Pumpkin Soup

The brewing of pumpkin beer goes back to the time of the our founding fathers in the colonies of North America. Having an ale for breakfast was not an uncommon practice at that time because the drinking water wasn't always safe to drink. During the autumn harvest, brewing a beverage from the produce of the harvest was just thrifty good sense as pumpkin was plentiful as were some of the spices. Brewing these spiced ales reflected the necessity of using the harvest in as many ways as possible to store for the winter without wasting anything. Although pumpkin doesn't actually add that much flavor to a beer, the spices that are added by the brewer are what creates the unique ale flavors. These spices give the flavor and essense of a pumpkin pie rather than the sweet, buttery taste of the gourd, making it a perfect addition to something like pumpkin soup.

To make this pumpkin soup recipe, you will need:

1 4-5 pound cooking pumpkin* to yield 6 cups roasted pumpkin OR about 3 (15 ounce) cans of pumpkin puree
4 tablespoon butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika**
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 large tart green apple (Granny Smith) peeled, cored, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 (12 oz) bottle of New Holland's Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 sprig fresh sage (or 1/4 teaspoon ground sage)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
* Most pumpkins in the store are meant for jack-o-lanterns, not eating. Use a sugar pumpkin or a Japanese Kabocha pumpkin if you are going to cook with it.
**If you don't enjoy smoked flavoring, any other type of paprika (hot, sweet, plain, Hungarian, or Spanish) would work here.  Just use whatever you like best.

To make pumpkin purée, cut your pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds* and stringy stuff (an ice cream scoop works well for this purpose), lie face down on a foil or Silpat lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour.  Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.
* Don't throw away the seeds! Use them to make toasted pumpkin seeds.

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. 

Add smoked paprika, cayenne, and cumin and stir for a minute more.

Add chopped apple and pumpkin purée. Add beer, broth, and water. Mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add the thyme and sage and then season with a little salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through.

Note to self: use a larger pan next time.

Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender or a food processor.  Cover tightly and blend until smooth.  If you want extra smooth soup, pass the purée through a food mill, after it's been through the blender. Return the soup to the saucepan.

With soup on low heat, slowly add the milk and cream, stirring to incorporate.  Add salt to taste.  Adjust other seasonings to taste.  I garnished mine with toasted pumpkin seeds, but you could use toasted pecans, crumbled bacon, or anything else you can think up!

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