Harvest Pumpkin Soup

I tried something different for lunch today with the boys.  Something VERY different from the usual PBJ sandwich or hot dogs even more different from the homemade hot pockets or homemade pitas.  Today I tried out a recipe for a pumpkin soup.  The last time I had ever even heard of such a dish was my second year here in Arkansas working as an office manager at a private school when one of the school parents who worked as a chef at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock brought a bowl to my office for me to try.  Since that time, it has never entered my mind to attempt its creation inside my own kitchen. 🙂  However, I was determined to try something new, healthy and cost-effective.  So far the only things I’ve been able to use all the homemade frozen pumpkin puree for is cookies, pies and breads.

I dug around a while on Pinterest looking for a simple recipe to try and settled on the Harvest Pumpkin Soup recipe (cir. 1982).  Funny how it wasn’t a blog post on the recipe or even an online link to a food site.  No, it was a simple photo of a magazine page.  Not that it makes any difference because this recipe is AWESOME!

FYI – the only things I changed to the original recipe was to make my own chicken broth using a powder and water instead of the canned stuff, used homemade pumpkin puree from my freezer instead of canned puree from the store, and made my own heavy whipping cream out of butter and whole milk instead of using store-bought heavy cream.  Now that I’m done with my confessions… On with the food!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 C. chicken broth (used 4 1/2 C. water and 2 T. chicken broth powder from the Amish)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (used 2 C. frozen homemade pumpkin puree, thawed)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 C. [1/2 pint]  heavy whipping cream (used 3/4 C. whole milk mixed with 1/3 C. melted butter)

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In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter.  Add potato and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until potato is tender, 10-12 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin.  Using an immersion blender, puree mixture until smooth. (Or, use a blender to puree mixture in batches, then return to pot.) Since I didn’t have an immersion blender, I used my regular blender to do the job.  To ensure that I didn’t end up with any lumps, I ladled out the potatoes and onions with just a little broth into the mixer.

Once it was nice and smooth, I added the chicken broth and blended.

Next add your pureed pumpkin and blend well.

*How thankful I am that my sister talked me into spending the extra $10 on the 8-cup blender instead of the 6-cup!  Great use of my Christmas money!! 🙂  If you are using the 6-cup blender, you will definitely have to do this in stages.

After everything is blended well, return the mixture to the pot.

Stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes.

If you are making your own heavy cream, now is the time to do it.  Melt your butter first then stir in your whole milk.  Stir in the cream and heat thoroughly.

Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.  Serve hot.

So easy and soooooo yummy!!!  My favorite part is that it has the texture and taste of a cream soup like cream of potato or cream of broccoli, yet only a fraction of the butter and milk used in those other soups.  The pumpkin puree is the ingredient that gives the soup the velvety richness without all the extra fat.  Also, I guess depending on how much of the powdered chicken broth you add, it will change the flavor.

The biggest thing is that all three of my boys cleaned their bowls at lunch.  Just served the soup along with buttered slices of homemade bread which they enjoyed dunking into their bowls.  BIG HIT!!

Chicken-Avocado Salad Stuffed Pitas

Never tried to make Pita bread before, but after reading a blog post over at http://www.underthehighchair.com, I just had to give it a try.  I was especially desirous of making these little creations since it sounded soooo good with a chicken-avocado salad to stuff inside.

Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add salt and 1 1/2 C. flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter.

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Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed.

Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.  Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Divide into 6 pieces for larger pitas or 10 for smaller.

Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into 1/4 inch thick discs.  (TIP:  VERY important to get the thickness right!  If too thin, they won’t puff and it is very hard to slice them open.)

The rolling pin sleeve my mom gave me at Christmas works beautifully!  Now I want to invest in a cloth-covered pastry board since it really does help keep dough from sticking and having to use so much extra flour to keep that from happening.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down onto a baking sheet.

Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden.  Store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.

For the salad, use 2 C. cooked, cubed chicken.

Mix in 1 T. sour cream and about 1/4 – 1/2 C. mayonnaise.  Season with salt, pepper and cilantro to taste.

Dice one large ripe avocado.

Gently mix the diced avocado with the chicken salad until well combined.

Cut a pita in half then carefully slice down the centers forming “pockets.”  (I made the mistake of rolling the dough out too thin so mine didn’t puff like they normally do.)

Fill with your favorite ingredients and enjoy!

Wimbush Family Pita Bread – by underthehighchair.com

INGREDIENTS (Dough):

  • 1 T. yeast
  • 1 ¼ C. warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3-3 ½ C. flour

DIRECTIONS:  Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.

Preheat oven to 425F.  With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden.

Store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.