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Parmesan-Peanut Pumpkin Soup

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Nothing is more enticing at Thanksgiving than a first-course soup. Guests walk in and see waiting-to-be-filled bowls and plates at the table and are pretty much, to coin a phrase, bowled over. "Oh! You made soup!" With this kind of a start, it follows that the typical smorgasbord spread of too-many crusty/soft casseroles, big tubs of cool whip, and baskets laden with fat-filled nutbreads will be replaced with a meal that is a finely crafted one served in distinct smaller courses with no waste. A not-so-big serving of wine to compliment each course pins the day to your culinary-triumph calendar. To start, there have been some crunchy nibbles for the rosé sangria or sparkling wine--say home-seasoned and roasted nuts or, instead, a crisp, fresh vegetable or two and a bit of cheese served in a made-from scratch bloody mary. But before you serve that turkey (quail, cornish hen, duck, pork loin, fresh ham, layered roasted vegetable terrine, or goose), let them warm up with a cup of pumpkin soup served with a bit of grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped Virginia peanuts. Match it with an off-dry or dry Riesling served not too terribly cold in your grandma's prettiest glasses. She would have wanted you to.

Of course, she might also have wanted you to include all the soft/crusty casseroles and the Cool Whip, as well. If you need to, go ahead. But, hey, start with the pumpkin soup and a drop of Riesling. Everyone will be off to a great start.

Parmesan-Peanut Pumpkin Soup serves 6 for a 1 c first course

  • 1/2 large onion, halved again
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut into thirds
  • 2 large carrots, unpeeled, cut into large chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 c fresh parsley
  • 1 apple, peeled and cut into 1/4's (reserve peel)
  • 6 sage leaves (1/2 t dry)
  • 2 sprigs thyme (or 1 t dry)
  • 1T olive oil
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 t peanut butter
  • 1 qt chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1/2 c evaporated non-fat milk
  • 1 t salt; 1/2 t pepper
  • 3-4 drops Tabasco, to taste
  • Garnish: 4T freshly grated parmesan
  • 2T chopped peanuts (Virginia grown, if possible)

1. Pulverize first eight ingredients (onions-thyme) in food processor until almost pureed.

2. In stockpot, pour olive oil; heat over medium heat. Add pureed vegetable mixture and apple peel; saute 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add pumpkin, broth and peanut butter.

3. Bring to boil, stirring. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove apple peel. Add evaporated milk and season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco.

4. Heat through and serve in warmed bowls. Top with either parmesan or chopped peanuts or both.

Can be made 1 day ahead up to the point of garnishing. Cool completely, cover tightly and refrigerate. Just before serving, rewarm slowly, and garnish before serving.

For more info:

Three St. Paul Chefs share recipes

Where to shop for wine in St. Paul

I'll just pick up a pulled turkey sandwich at Turkey to Go in St. Paul

Isn't there an Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service at Cabrini this year?

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