RECIPE: Pumpkin Bisque

Serves 4 (I think).

1 small pie pumpkin (2-3 pounds)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
2 shallots
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 splash dark beer (optional)
2 cups chicken broth (boxed broth is preferable to canned and vegetable broth can be substituted for a vegetarian recipe)
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup heavy cream

Note: The pumpkin weight and herb measurements are guestimates, and I may have used one cup of broth equivalent instead of two in my initial trial, but I can't be sure. I'll update this next time I make it, but either way should yield good results.

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Hack the pumpkin into 8ths like longitude lines on a globe and remove the fibrous/seedy part with a spoon. Slice off the shell and cut into 1 inch cubes. Place in a covered baking dish with 1/4 inch water and drizzle with maple syrup. Cook until easily squished with a fork, about 20 minutes.

3. Cut carrot into 1/2 inch lengths and pulse in food processor (approximately five 1-second pulses). Cut celery into half-inch lengths, peel and quarter the shallots and add both to food processor for another five one-second pulses.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large, heavy bottom saucepan. Once the butter stops foaming, add the vegetables from the food processor and sauté, seasoning with salt and pepper and stirring occasionally until soft. If the pan gets a little dry, add a splash of beer rather than more butter.

5. Add broth, rosemary, basil, thyme and bay leaf to pan and bring to a boil.

6. Pour off any remaining liquid from baking dish and add pumpkin to simmering soup, mashing gently with a fork or something.

7. Simmer 5 minutes, add cream and remaining butter. Remove from heat as soon as soup returns to boil.

8. Discard bay leaf, pour soup into food processor and pulse until combined and visibly chunk-free, but some texture and bite remains.

9. Pour into four bowls and garnish with sour cream and fresh basil or parsley or something.

10. Serve immediately with crusty bread or croutons.

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