Fall is here! If you are looking for an impressive dish for a dinner party or an interesting starter for Thanksgiving dinner, try the Curried Pumpkin Bisque from The Junior League’s Savor the Seasons cookbook (page 50). Start to finish, it only took 30 minutes, so it would work great during the week, too. The combination of flavors was great and the rich, creamy taste would be wonderful on a cool fall night (although we enjoyed it on a warm fall night, it is Florida after all).
All of the ingredients are easily found, especially the pumpkin puree during this season. I purchased lump crab rather than jumbo lump crab, as it saved about $4 per container. The crab is a little pricy, but well worth it! The directions were clear and accurate. I noticed the soup thickened nicely from the cornstarch base. Once assembled, it would probably hold well if left on low heat with occasional stirring. I followed the recipe as written, but would probably use half and half or whole milk instead of heavy cream next time, just to make it a bit less rich. We didn’t have cognac, so I used a bit of sherry instead and finished it with chives on top for a bit of oniony taste. I imagine the cognac would be wonderful.
I wanted to keep things festive so I served it in a gourd, as was suggested in the cookbook. It is really easy (I promise!) and looks quite fancy. If you choose to serve the soup in a gourd, there are a ton of colorful and interesting choices available in stores right now- all types and colors of pumpkins, as well as squash of different colors and shapes, so get creative! You basically just need something with enough space to hold a couple ladles of soup and the ability to flatten the bottom so it sits evenly. I went with the standard acorn squash, which is generally available all year. I thought the green skin was a nice contrast to the orange soup.
After scooping out the seeds, I thought the “bowl” should be a bit larger, so I used a pairing knife to carve out a larger and more symmetrical space. The uncooked squash provides tons of carving possibilities. If you are more creative and crafty, you could even carve out a shape (this was not in my skill set)! And don’t forget some crusty bread for dipping! We had a side salad with blueberries and almonds for some additional greens. It was husband approved!
Curried Pumpkin Bisque
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground ginger or 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (I used ground)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 c chicken broth
2 c heavy cream
2 c fresh lump back fin crab meat, flaked
salt and pepper to taste
fresh or dried parsley (I used fresh chives)
Cook the onion, garlic, curry powder, ginger, nutmeg and Tabasco sauce in the butter in a stockpot until the onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the cornstarch and cook until thickened. Add the pumpkin and broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream and crab meat. Cook until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Pour a splash of cognac over each serving and sprinkle with parsley. Yields 8-10 servings.
“Out of your gourd”
For a gourmet presentation at your autumn dinner or Thanksgiving feast, serve Curried Pumpkin Crab Bisque in colorful gourds, such as acorn squash. Slice a bit of the rounded base of the gourd to help it lay flat, and line the inside bottom with foil to ensure the soup doesn’t leak. Garnish with small pieces of crab, a dash of cognac and fresh parsley.