Friday, November 16, 2007

Roasted Pumpkin and Onion Bisque (Soup) - Thanksgiving Appetizer!

As we drift into longer and more chillier nights, and await the first snow, our tongues and minds crave for something hot, comforting and tantalizing. And with Thanksgiving round the corner, we are also looking for recipes that would fit the occasion. And this is one time of the year when you cannot ignore pumpkins, which are mainly cultivated in western hemisphere, and are commonly found in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and India. Honestly, I haven't been a great fan of using this in my recipes, maybe because I haven't developed the taste for it. But 3 days ago I tried the pumpkin soup at my cafe and the flavor struck a chord. It was creamy, rich, a bit of sweet with a touch of onions and savored with italian herbs. And the mere look of the bisque was inviting and soothing at the same time. So I thought I have to share this with my other readers who might have shied away from pumpkin recipes just like me and would never realize how wonderful this recipe could be! The credit for this recipe goes to the chef at our cafe:) I promised a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Feast, and true to my words, here comes the first course on the menu, a warm and comforting Pumpkin and Onion Bisque (with a Vegan version) to serve your family and friends!

1 large pumpkin, skin removed, and cut into medium-sized pieces
1 yellow onion - chopped
3 cloves of garlic - mashed with the blade of a knife (do not chop)
1 tbsp fresh thyme - finely chopped (or use the dry packaged one found in stores)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
3 cups vegetable stock or water
3 tbsp dry white wine (optional, but it's the secret holiday ingredient!:))
1/2 to 1 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp fennel powder (optional to your taste)
1 cup heavy cream

For a Vegan Recipe, substitute coconut Milk instead of heavy cream. You won't compromise on the taste. In fact, coconut adds a nice flavor to the soup!

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss the pumpkin, onions, garlic and thyme in olive oil so that it is evenly coated and spread the mixture onto a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20–30 minutes until tender, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and transfer to a large saucepot. Add the vegetable stock, wine and cardamom powder and simmer for 10 minutes. Now remove from flame and let it cool a little.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth and transfer to another saucepan. When ready to serve, reheat on medium flame, bring back to a simmer, then add in the heavy cream and whisk well. Remove from heat and serve hot with a piece of your favorite bread on the side. You can even garnish with more cream or bread croutons! For a Thanksgiving Main Course, try the Vegetarian Lasagna with Noodles!

Tip: You can add more vegetables like celery and carrots. A dash of nutmeg, if you like the flavor, can also add a nice zing!

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