A savory Autumn soup, perfect for Thanksgiving...
Executive Chef Cris Comerford gave Nate Berkus, host of NBC's The Nate Berkus Show, a cooking lesson in the White House kitchen when he visited during the October 5th Fall Harvest of First Lady Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden. Comerford showed the design master how to make Roasted Pumpkin Squash Soup, an aromatic Autumn creation. It's very similar to the Butternut Squash Bisque that was served as the first course for President Obama and Mrs. Obama's most recent State Dinner, in honor of President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea. (Above: Comerford and Berkus at work)
Comerford garnishes the soup with sweet/spicy Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), a drizzle of Pumpkin Seed Oil, and Greek yogurt. The video of the cooking lesson shows all the steps. It also contains a glimpse of tasting dishes being prepared for Mrs. Obama for the menu for the Korea State Dinner. The episode included Berkus interviewing Mrs. Obama (video here), and touring the Kitchen Garden with Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass (video here).
While Comerford used small pumpkin squash for the soup during her lesson, she said that it is equally good with other squash varieties. "Any squash can be used," Comerford said, noting Acorn and Butternut as good swaps. The recipe calls for chicken stock, but vegetarian stock can be substituted. A blender is required, as is a mesh strainer for a less chunky soup.
Two other seasonal White House soup recipes: Click here for Broccoli Soup; and click here for a different version of Broccoli Soup. Check the sidebar for all other White House recipes.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1 ½ lbs Pumpkin Squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 Cup celery, diced
1 Cup carrot, peeled and diced
1 ½ Tsp paprika
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
4 Cups chicken stock (vegetable stock can be substituted)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup Greek yogurt
Pumpkin Seed oil
½ cup Pumpkin seeds (Pepitas)
Espellette powder (Basque chili pepper powder)
Method for the soup
1. Cut the Pumpkin Squash in half and place it, cut side down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until it is easily pierced with a knife, about an hour.
2. Remove from oven and let Cool. Scoop the flesh out and discard the skin and seeds.
3. Warm the olive oil in a soup pot over a medium heat. Sweat the carrots, onion, celery and garlic until translucent, about five to ten minutes.
4. Add the dry spices and the aromatics. Add the Squash flesh and chicken stock.
5. Bring to a boil and simmer for about fifteen minutes. REMOVE Bay leaves and Thyme sprig if still intact.
6. Using a blender, puree in batches. For a less chunky soup, strain through a fine mesh.
7. Return to pot to gently simmer.
1. Preheat a small sauté pan with a medium heat.
2. Add the pumpkin seeds and powdered sugar.
3. Stir the mixture continuously until you hear a popping sound and the sugar starts to caramelize. Add salt and a dash of espellette powder, mix.
To serve: Warm soup bowls, and pour in soup. Sprinkle Candied Pepitas into each bowl of soup, drizzle with Pumpkin Seed Oil, and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
*Photos and video from The Nate Berkus Show