This is not an easy to make soup. But, it is totally worth the effort… It might even be the best pumpkin soup I have had, with the obvious exception of Mrs Caramelized Sr’s creations. Just bumped into the recipe almost by accident on David Leite‘s website. By coincidence, I had all the main ingredients, a lot of time in my hands and the inclement weather was unsuitable for any attempt to try anything outdoors.
Half way through the making of the soup, while struggling with so many elements and details, I took a closer look to the post header. It turned out this dish is authored by Charlie Trotter, better know for its stylish and imaginative cuisine (meaning – a bit too difficult for the rest of us mortals). I probably would have never had the guts to try it if I had realized this earlier. But, once you start doing it, what else can you do but carry on and finish the dish?
A couple of tweaks were made though. The original recipe calls for thyme to be added to the pumpkin roast, and sage to finish the dish. I had none, either dry or alive, and simply omitted it. Also, instead of chicken breasts I had chicken thighs. Ended up doing the same that Yotam Ottholengi does for its chicken and buttermilk cold soup.
Pumpkin Soup with Chicken and Ginger-Braised Leeks
For the preserved ginger
- 6 tablespoons peeled and julienned fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 cups (=300g) sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (=375mL water)
For the soup
- 1 small pumpkin, halved and seeded (I picked already cut pumkin, about 1,5kg)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 cups (=mL water) chicken stock, or enough to cover the chicken thighs
- 2 leeks (white part only), cut into 1 cm inch-thick slices
- 5 tablespoons (=70g) unsalted butter
- 3 cups (= 375mL water) chicken stock (or enough to cover the chicken thighs)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup preserved ginger
- 4 chicken thighs
Place the ginger, 1/2 cup (=100g) of the sugar, and 1/2 (=125mL) cup of the water in a small saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain the liquid, and repeat the process two more times, reserving the final cooking liquid to store the ginger. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Make the soup
Preheat the oven to 350°F (=175°C). Season the flesh of the pumpkin with salt and pepper and rub with the olive oil. Place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet. Add enough water to have about 1cm water in the oven dish 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender.[the recipe called for thyme sprigs to be put under the pumpkin, but I had none at home.]
In the meanwhile, start the kitchen broth. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic on a low heat for five to 10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the chicken, and the salt and the pepper to taste. Pour in stock just to cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Reserve the broth and shred the chicken off the bones while it is hot . I always discard the skin, but that is entirely up to your taste.
Cook the leeks with 2 tablespoons (= 30g) of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add 1 cup of the stock and the 1 tablespoon ginger and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes, or until the leeks are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Keep warm.
Puree the 1/4 cup ginger and any residual ginger juice, the chicken broth, and the pumpkin pulp until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the soup in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until warm. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons (=40g) butter and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon some of the leeks into the center of each bowl and ladle the soup around the leeks. Arrange some of the shredded chicken in the center of each bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately. [the recipe called for sage leaves to be added, but I had none at home.]