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Cheese Soup in Little Pumpkin Shells

from A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Seibert Pappas
Cheese Soup in Little Pumpkin Shells

6 mini pumpkins or Carnival, Sweet Dumpling, or acorn squash (3/4 to 1 pound each)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 quart homemade or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese or Gruyère cheese
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Garlic Sourdough Croutons

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash
by Lou Seibert Pappas from Chronicle Books


Individual decorative pumpkins or other small, round winter squash make charming containers for this wine-laced cheese soup. Accompany with crusty rosemary bread and a salad of arugula and mixed greens tossed with red grapes and toasted pecans.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. With a small, sharp knife, cut wide tops out of the pumpkins to make bowls. Scrape out and discard the seeds and fibers. Replace the tops and arrange the pumpkins on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife but still firm, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Trim all but 1/4 inch of flesh from the tops, reserving the trimmed flesh. Cut and scrape out some of the flesh of each pumpkin to make shells with about a 3/4-cup capacity. Dice the trimmed flesh and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broth, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Let cool slightly. Working in 2 or 3 batches, in a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the vegetable mixture to a purée. Return the purée to the saucepan. Stir in the milk and cook until heated through. Add the cheese and wine and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the cooked squash pieces and toss and stir just to heat through. Place the hot pumpkin tureens on dinner plates and ladle in the soup. Sprinkle with croutons. Serve immediately, with the sautéed pumpkin alongside to spoon over the soup.

To make Garlic Sourdough Croutons:
Preheat the oven 375°. In a small baking dish, combine the garlic and oil, stir to coat, and let steep for a few minutes. Add the croutons and toss to coat. Bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted; set aside.

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