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Pumpkin Bisque

Much as I love pumpkin and squash, I am a bigger fan of it in savory dishes than in sweet ones. I had a beautiful red kuri squash with which to make this soup and my mind was definitely going the curried with coconut milk soup route until I tasted the flesh of the squash. It was a tad too far on the sweet side for my taste so I went in another direction for the soup, which brought it back from dessert territory and worked very well in its own right too!

This made 6 cups of soup and freezes really well.

1 4-5 lb kuri squash or pumpkin or, for convenience's sake, 2-3 pounds pre-peeled and cubed squash or pumpkin

1 large white or yellow onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin half moons

2 leeks, well washed and cut into coins

1 1/2 tsps zaatar or a mixture of half dried thyme and half dried oregano will work as a substitute

1 tsp each cumin, cardamon and coriander powder

2 tsps harissa

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 cups water

1 cup heavy cream

Salt to taste

Microwave the squash for five minutes. Turn it over and repeat. For those of you who are not in possession of a microwave, bake the whole pumpkin for 30 to 40 minutes. Either of these actions will jump start cooking time and will also allow you easier access to the flesh of the pumpkin than attacking it in its raw state will. Once out of the microwave or oven, split the pumpkin in half and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven and, as soon as it shimmers, add the dried spices. Stir to combine and add the onions, leeks and some salt. Stir to combine and lower the heat to very low. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are very soft and are starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes.

While the alliums are cooking down, remove the seeds and string from the pumpkin and scoop the flesh from the skin. Kuri squash skin is edible so I actually just hacked the seed-free remains into rough cubes and added it to the onion mixture as is. Either way, add the squash to the onions and stir to combine with the spiced onion mixture before adding the water and covering.

Let cook for about thirty minutes until the squash is very tender and falling apart.

Remove to a blender or, if using a hand blender to a large bowl. Return the now empty pan to the stove and measure in the cream and the harissa. Your flame should still be on very low so cook down by half, stirring often.

In the meantime, blitz the pumpkin mixture very, very well. Place a sieve over the pan with the cream in it and pour the pumpkin mixture into the cream through the sieve -- this will make for an amazingly smooth end result.

Taste the soup and add more salt if needed and a tad more harissa if you want more heat. You could garnish with some more cream if you wanted to, or some chopped herbs, but I left the bisque as is -- it was silky smooth and slightly earthly with hints of sweetness from the leeks and squash and very, very good.


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