One night several years ago, when in New York working, I had an amazing dinner at one of the delightful restaurants in what was affectionately known as “The Gourmet Ghetto”. The restaurant, Montrachet, named for a wine area of Burgundy, France recognized for its great chardonnay, is sadly no longer there. What I remember from that night, other than one of my young co-workers getting too drunk to stay seated at the table, was a fantastically rich and lustrous pumpkin soup. It was velvety smooth and perfectly balanced between sweet and savory; a soup that one would remember for a very long time.
A few nights later my plans were cancelled and I was suddenly on my own for dinner on a Friday night. Fortunately, I happened to have been using a friend’s apartment on 22nd that was right above another, now deceased, favorite restaurant: Bolo. Bolo was Bobby Flay’s Spanish restaurant. The great thing about Bolo was that you could eat at the bar. They had an amazing selection of Spanish wine by the glass and really remarkable food. It was fall and pumpkins were clearly popping up at the market because the soup that night at Bolo was also Pumpkin/Squash soup. Bobby’s was spicy and smokey and delicious, but a complete contrast from Montrachet. I lingered over a few glasses of pleasant Spanish red trying to work out all of the ingredients in both of these two soups.
A few weeks later, back in Los Angeles, I started to experiment. I recognized many flavors from each and tried to make an amalgam that would be at least as exciting as either one, but hopefully better together. In my humble opinion, I believe I succeeded. In celebration of fall, and the fond memories of Bolo and Montrachet, here is my roasted pumpkin soup.
- 1 Small Sugar Pumpkin
- 3 Roma Tomatoes
- 1 Butternut Squash
- 2-3 Cups Chicken Broth
- 4 Slices Pancetta, some fat removed and diced
- Splash of Cream
- Pomegranate for Seeds
- 3 Shallots, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Sage (fresh if possible)
- Pinch Cinnamon
- Olive Oil
- Splash of White Wine
- Salt and Pepper
- Non-stick Cookie Sheet
- Large Pot
- Small Pan
- Chef’s Knife
- Blender or Stick Blender
- Pre-heat oven to 350.
- Peel and clean the pumpkin and squash and cut into 1″ chunks.
- Arrange on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Roast for 45-50 minutes, or until soft when poked with a fork.
- Remove and let cool.
- Par boil the tomatoes in a pan of boiling water to remove the skin. Usually takes about 2 minutes until the skin starts to crack.
- Let cool and peel.
- In the bottom of a soup put, sauté the diced pancetta in a little olive oil until crispy.
- Set aside on a paper towel.
- Deglaze the pan with a glug of wine. Add a little more olive oil.
- On low heat, sauté the shallots.
- When translucent, add tomatoes, squash, pumpkin and enough broth to cover.
- Briefly bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- This is a good time to remove the seeds from the pomegranate.
- Add cinnamon and sage to the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Blend to velvety consistency.
- Turn off flame, add cream and stir.
- Serve in hot bowls with a sprinkling of the pancetta and a handful of pomegranate seeds.