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Monday, November 20, 2006

Soupe de Potimarron au beurre noisette (pumpkin soup with sage brown butter)


*This is an old post from the Chez Pim archives.  I'm a little bit overwhelmed at the moment, so hopefully this season-appropriate post from last year can keep you occupied for a bit until I'm back here chez moi.*

This is a pumpkin with many names.  It's called Potimarron in French, or Hokkaido Squash in English, or Kuri Pumpkin (from Uchiki Kuri in Japanese), I've also heard it referred to as Chestnut Pumpkin, or even Red-skin Kabocha.  I first encountered it in France, where the name Potimarron combined the two words Potiron, for pumpkin, and Marron, for chestnut, which are the two characteristic flavors of this particular pumpkin.  Or is it a squash?  I never can tell the difference.  Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

Potimarron –which, yes, by any other name would be as delicious- makes a perfect bowl of soup.  The cooked flesh is sweet but much less so than its cousin Kabocha, making it perfect for a savory soup, and the chestnut flavor adds an unexpected complexity to the simple soup.  It's also so very easy to make, using just a few ingredients, and doesn't require any tool more sophisticated than a hand blender or a normal blender to make a perfectly smooth soup. 

You could also puree it with a tiny amount of cream, like we did when in Mougins last year.  The puree was perfectly silky without needing a few passes through the Chinois.  We paired the gorgeous orange purée with just as gorgeous seared foie gras.

This time, I made the simple soup to warm a cool day and garnished with a handful of croutons and a few drops of sage brown butter.  How simple, and how delicious.

Soupe de Potimarron

Soupe de Potimarron, au beurre noisette à la sauge
Chestnut pumpkin soup with sage brown butter

For the soup
1 2-3 pounds Potimarron, or Kuri pumpkin, or, you get the picture
1/2 small onion, cut into cubes
3 cups of milk
3 tbsp of crème fraîche, (you can also use yogurt or sour cream)
1 tbsp butter, soft
salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish
1 cup of croutons (trim and cut stale bread into small cubes and sauté with a little butter until brown)
4 tbsp butter
3 sage leafs

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.

2. Cut the Potimarron into quarters, scoop out the seeds, and rub 1/2 tablespoon of the butter all over the exposed surface. Bake the Potimarron quarters in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

3. While the Potimarron is baking, cook the cubed onion in a sauté pan with the rest of the butter and a pinch of salt over a very low heat.  Let the onion cooked, while stirring every so often, until uniformly brown and caramelized but not burn, for about 20-25 mins.

4. When the Potimarron is cooked through, take them out of the oven and let cool for a little bit. (You may test the doneness with a knife, if the blade goes through the flesh easily then it is done.)

5. While the Potimarron is cooling down, make the sage brown butter.  In the smallest pot you own, preferably a small butter warmer, cook the 4 tbsp butter with the sage leafs until completely melted over low heat.  The butter will foam up as it cooks, when the foam subsides, let it continue to cook until you can see the bits of milk solids at the bottom of the pot turning brown.  Take the pot off the heat immediately and let cool.  If you've overcook the butter and the brown bits are getting a bit too brown, then strain the butter into a cool bowl immediately.  If not, you can leave the butter and sage leafs to macerate in the warm pot until ready to use. 

6.  When the Potimarron quarters are cool enough to handle, scoop out the meat with a spoon.  The cooked flesh should separate readily from the skin.  You should have about 3-3.5 cups of cooked Potimarron.

5. Add the Potimarron flesh in a medium pot with the three cups of milk, the caramelized onion, a generous handful of salt, and a few turns of the pepper grinder.  Let cook on low heat until it comes to a gentle boil.  Turn the heat off, then blend the content of the pot into a smooth puree, either with a hand blender or in a stand blender. 

6. If using a stand blender, pour the blended soup back into the pot and let cook gently over low heat.  Add the three tablespoons of crème fraîche (or yogurt of sour cream).  Keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot or it will burn.  Add more salt if needed.  When the soup comes back to a gentle boil, turn the heat off and serve.

7. Serve in a warm bowl with a small handful of croutons and a teaspoon -or two, or three, as you wish- of the sage brown butter.

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