Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Curried pumpkin soup & the Firefly Grill

The sensory highlight of the Organic Gardening Day for me was lunch! I think it was the sensory highlight for a lot of people. Every time anyone mentioned lunch, people started cheering and clapping. The conference center happily catered to our group's every whim by bringing in all sorts of fresh, organic, locally grown produce and meats to create some outstanding dishes.

The curried pumpkin soup was my personal favorite. It's a creation of Chef Niall Campbell of the Firefly Grill in Effingham, IL. Their remote location has not slowed them down one bit -- they've been featured in Bon Apetit as one of the "hot ten" eco-friendly restaurants in America and in the Chicago Tribune as a "restaurant worth the trip," which is 210 miles from the city! The building is made from recycled steel and reclaimed barn wood. They have their own on-site organic garden, which is irrigated with water from their pond, and they buy produce, meat, and dairy from about 45 farmers. Chef Niall says he can drive past the farm that raises his beef and see the cattle out there grazing. Talk about quality control! But really it's about taste -- fresh just tastes better.

The moment I tasted the curried pumpkin soup, my taste buds were in culinary heaven. I ooohed and mmmed and sighed. I was even more excited because I'd already seen the copy of the recipe and knew I'd be able to duplicate this delicacy at home. Of course, it uses a real pumpkin. Chef Niall prefers to use one of the heirlooms, such as Long Island Cheese or the Cinderella Pumpkin (Rouge Vif d'Etampes), which run in the 10-pound range, according to my Seed Saver Exchange catalog. So, without further ado, here is the recipe -- and as a really special treat, Chef Niall and Kristie, his wife, who helps him run the restaurant, have agreed to pop in a couple times on Wednesday to answer any questions that you might have about the recipe or their restaurant!

Curried Pumpkin Soup

1 whole pumpkin
1 1/4 T. unsalted butter
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
2 oz. chopped ginger
1 T. coriander powder
1 T. turmeric
1 T. white pepper
1 T. cumin
1 T. cardamon
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 T. clove
1 T. fenugreek seed crushed
1 c. orange juice
1 c. cream
salt and pepper to taste

Roast whole pumpkin at 350 degrees for 1 hour until soft. Make certain to save juice in dish and run through a fine mesh strainer. Let pumpkin cool and remove all seeds, remove skin and cut pumpkin into 2" X 2" pieces. In a large pot combine butter, onions, and ginger and cook on medium heat for two minutes until melted. Add pumpkin, orange juice, cream, pumpkin juice, and spices, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes then puree with immersion blender or food processor and serve.


Megan said...

This soup sounds delicious, I'm definitely making it! Pumpkin is such a great ingredient in so many dishes.

Michelle said...

Would it work with squash? I have small squash at home that I was just going to bake with butter and maple syurp, but this sounds yummy. I've never experimented with squash or pumpkin...

Michelle said...

Oh, and what's fenugreek seed?

Kristie & Niall said...

Fenugreek is a plant where the leaves are used as an herb and the seeds are used as a spice. Grown in India and the Mediterranean, it's aromatic and bittersweet, with the bouquet becoming more pungent when the seeds are roasted. It's one of the base spices used in curry powder. And yes, you can substitute squash for the pumpkin. BTW, did you know that most canned pumpkin is actually butternut, Hubbard, or Boston Marrow squash? It's less stringy than pumpkin and tends to be richer in sweetness and color.
-Niall & Kristie

Kristie & Niall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alyss said...

I love curried pumpkin soup! I've got a couple more pumpkins left from the fall harvest, maybe this is what I'll do with them.

Michelle said...

I served curried butternut soup for Thanksgiving dinner to rave reviews. Similar recipe, but the liquid is coconut milk (I use "light"). I know coconut milk must be imported, but the flavor marries itself so well to curry!


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