Julia Child's Recipes. My Kitchen.

Follow along as I cook from volumes 1 and 2 of the culinary classic - with a modern makeover.

Julia Child's Pumpkin Soup, In a Pumpkin

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I heard Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air the other day. In between talking about the the untimely demise of the magazine, she mentioned one of her favorite fall recipes, Roast Pumpkin with Cheese Fondue.

After locating the recipe in the new Gourmet Today cookbook, I saw that it's remarkably like the recipe for Stuffed Pumpkin, or Pumpkin Soup Served in a Pumpkin {Le Potiron Tout Rond} in volume 2 of MTAOFC. I'd flagged that recipe a while back because it sounded so appealing to me, and just right for making in the fall. I put the two recipes side-by-side and prepared myself for re-mastering.

I set my sights on the plump, heirloom pumpkin I brought home from the farmer's market last week and got to work; I cut the top off and began removing the stringy, gooey seeds from the inside, just like carving a Halloween jack o' lantern.

The process proved to be much easier than I thought it would be, especially after I gave up trying to scrape everything out with my big metal spoon and just dug in with my bare hands. That's when I discovered that getting intimate with the inside of a pumpkin is actually kind of pleasant. The flesh is cool to the touch and smells sweet and earthy. You know, pumpkiny - not like an overspiced aromatherapy candle, but like a vegetable just pulled from the ground.

The rest of the work involved to make the soup is as simple as filling the pumpkin with toasted bread, cheese, a mixture of broth and cream and some seasoning. The whole thing then goes into the oven for an hour or two, depending on the size of the pumpkin, until the flesh is softened.

As the word "fondue" implies in the Gourmet recipe, the mixture inside bakes into a mass of soft, cheesy, bread and creamy broth. You scoop out some into a bowl, making sure to scrape out bits of pumpkin. It's kind of fun, until you get to the bottom of the pumpkin and it starts leaking.

My daughter loved the idea of eating bits of bread and pumpkin, and we shared a bowl or two. She became a little disappointed in me later when I decided to see what would happen if I put the rest of the soup in a blender.

I think she might be right. The whole point of this recipe is its rustic presentation - soup served in its own tureen! The pureed soup was tasty and very smooth, but it might be a little too elegant. Plus, who needs the extra steps and mess that comes with blending up the contents of a 10-pound pumpkin?

Pumpkin Soup, Baked in a Pumpkin

Printable recipe here

1 half of a baguette, plain or whole grain; cut into cubes
1 (7-pound) pie pumpkin, such as Sugar; washed and dried
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 8-ounce container crème fraîche
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (make sure it smells fresh)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces imported Gruyere cheese (try to get the real French stuff); shredded
1 bay leaf

Heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven about 8 minutes.
Using a sharp, small knife, cut out a 3 or 4 –inch circle from around the pumpkin stem and set it aside. Scrape out the seeds and loose stringy bits using a large metal spoon or your hands.

Put the pumpkin in a roasting pan and sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt inside. Arrange a layer of the toasted bread on the bottom of the pumpkin.

Stir together the broth and crème fraîche. Add the remaining teaspoon salt, nutmeg and pepper to the mixture and stir again until dissolved.

Pour about a third of the broth over the bread, followed by a third of the cheese. Continue layering twice more and top with the bay leaf. Replace the pumpkin top and carefully place in the oven.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes.

At this point, take the pumpkin out of the oven and gently poke it with a skewer or the point of a knife – there should be very little resistance, but should still hold its shape. If it still feels a bit firm, put it back in the oven and test it at 15-minute intervals until if feels done – try not to over cook so that the pumpkin doesn’t start to slump or cave in. There goes your tureen.

To serve, carefully spoon out some broth, bread and pieces of pumpkin (you have to scrape the sides a bit to break up the flesh). As you get toward the bottom of the pumpkin, some liquid might begin to leak out – keep the pumpkin in the pan or another large bowl just in case.

Top with additional cheese and enjoy.
Serves 10-12.

Adapted from a recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2 {page 361}
and Gourmet Today.


elfinpdx said...

This looks GREAT! Maybe we'll try it this weekend. I'll see if I can get S to buy a pumpkin at the farmer's market.

Katie @ goodLife {eats} said...

My friend was telling me about that pumpkin fondue last week. She had it at a party and thought it was so good.

CaptPoco said...

Man, that soup looks fantastic. And the title has a kind of logic that is inescapable. Definitely going to try this out!

c.wasch said...

Alton Brown just did a variation of this on his show "Good Eats". He added an apple & onion, substituted goat cheese for the Gruyere &/or crème fraîche, and then used an immersion blender right in the pumpkin. Not a lover of goat cheese, I stumbled onto your blog in search of alternatives - think I'll try a soup using a bit of both recipes. Thank you!

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