meatless monday: smashed pumpkin soup with mascarpone

We are neck-deep in winter and the only way out is to eat soup til April. I took the dog out this morning (-4 degrees!) and on our stoop, today’s Wall Street Journal‘s Cooking & Eating section blew open to reveal this gem. Soup that you eat with a fork! With a quick modification to make it meatless (veggie broth instead of chicken broth), we’ve got ourselves a great soup from the world-renowned River Cafe in London.

photo by Christopher Baker for WSJ

Ruth Rogers’ Smashed Pumpkin Soup with Mascarpone
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more oil for finishing
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
7 whole canned San Marzano tomatoes, drained
1 1½-2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾-inch cubes (yields 5¼ cups)
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
1¾ cup vegetable stock
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese

In a medium pot set over low heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with garlic and fennel seeds. Squeeze the tomatoes over the pot so as to break up the flesh and catch all juices in the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until tomatoes begin to turn dark red. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir in squash and potatoes. Add enough stock to just cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking that the vegetables are just submerged.Once vegetables are tender, remove pot from heat and mash with a potato masher. The soup should be thick and creamy, the consistency of risotto. Ladle soup into four shallow bowls. Garnish with grated Parmesan, a few dollops of mascarpone cheese and a generous drizzle of good olive oil.

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