In “Rogers Gray Italian Country Cookbook” (Random House, $40), authors Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray offer a pumpkin soup that would be a perfect introduction to any meal, or a meal in itself. Onion, garlic, marjoram and red chile peppers accent the mellow flavor of pumpkin in traditional Italian style. Other types of winter squash, such as acorn, could also be used.
Zuppa de Zucca (Pumpkin Soup)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 small red onions, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers
4 large sprigs fresh marjoram
3 1/4 pounds pumpkin (small, pie pumpkin or a butternut squash) peeled, seeded and diced into 2-inch cubes
5 ounces new potatoes, peeled and cubed as above
1-2 dried hot chiles, such as jalapeños
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 quart chicken stock
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Extra virgin olive oil
6 slices ciabatta bread
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan and gently sauté the onions until soft. Stir in the garlic and marjoram leaves, the pumpkin and potato, and continue to cook for a minute. Season with the chile, salt and pepper. Add enough stock just to cover the pumpkin, turn down the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20-25 minutes. You may need to add more stock.
Strain about a third of the stock from the pumpkin and set aside. Put the pumpkin and remaining stock in a food processor and pulse. The mixture should be very thick. Return this to the saucepan and add the stock you removed. Check for seasoning. (This is a very thick soup.)
Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil and crostini. Make the crostini by toasting it lightly under the broiler, then rubbing with fresh garlic and dipping in olive oil.
Makes 6 servings.
From “Rogers Gray Italian Country Cookbook” by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray