“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” –Harriet Van Horne, Vogue 10/1956
“Fat gives things flavor.” –Julia Child
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” –Julia Child
My daughter, Kerryn, grandson, Gabe and my son-in-law Mike’s recent discovery that they are dealing with food allergies as the cause of a variety of maladies they suffer from has started me on a quest to adapt or develop family recipes that are dairy and egg free as well as a few other things they can no longer eat . Here’s the latest:
Hearty Savory Pumpkin soup (Dairy Free)
Fry one pound of pork or turkey sausage until browned in a large skillet on a medium high burner, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon. If your sausage is low-fat (why bother), melt 1-2 table spoons margarine or butter (this is NOT diet food people!) and saute:
- 1 large onion minced.
- 2 ribs of celery diced (you may substitute 1 tsp celery seed)
- 2-3 carrots diced
- A large pinch of sea salt
- a few cranks of the pepper mill or 1/8 tsp ground pepper
until the onion and celery are beginning to get soft. Add
- 1 tsp thyme
- a couple of large pinches of rubbed sage (¼ to ½ tsp?)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or one dried hot pepper (Jalapeno, Habanero, whatever…) crushed.
Continue to saute, stirring occasionally for another 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery is soft. Meanwhile in a large stock pot over medium heat melt, stirring constantly:
- 1 TBS margarine or butter
- 2 TBS creamy peanut butter
Slowly add, stirring constantly with a whisk:
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- Another large pinch of sea salt
- the sausage and sauteed vegetables
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes until the carrots have softened. Stir in:
- 1 can or 2 cups of pureed pumpkin
- 1 can of coconut milk or 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
At this point taste your soup and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if it needs it and pepper flakes if you like the heat. Be careful with the pepper flakes because they take on a life of their own. Add a very few at a time and let it cook for a minute or two and taste again before you add more. Heat slowly just until it starts to simmer and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
You can skip this step but it really will help to improve and intensify the flavors. Turn off the heat and let it sit until it becomes room temperature then refrigerate it for 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Be sure you cover it so it doesn’t pick up any flavors from the stuff in the refrigerator. Bring it back to serving temperature and stir in 1 TBS of chopped parsley. Ladle into a bowl and drop a dollop of imitation sour cream, greek yogurt, or the real thing (if you aren’t doing dairy free) to float on top.
I made this last night to taste test with Kerryn to determine if we liked it. We figure if SHE likes it then more than likely the rest of the Gavin-Lewellyn-Francis clan is going to like it. Namely the men in the family. They’ll pretty much eat anything that isn’t vomit worthy except for Gabe and he’s pretty picky–a typical kid who hates most vegetables. He and Kerryn both have food texture issues. Gabe doesn’t like “crunchy” onions in stuff as does Kerryn who also despises celery that has any amount of give to it in soups and things like stuffing. I learned years ago to saute onions and celery to the point of mush to get it past her.
We’ve decided it was a keeper. Kerryn said that it was the best soup she had ever had. I think that’s a little hyperbole on her part but it was pretty damn good. We decided that we wouldn’t tell Gabe it was pumpkin soup until after he ate it. We don’t usually do that to him because it causes trust issues but she thinks I can get away with it. This would look great served in individual hearty artisan bread bowls (sunflower bread?) or a medium-sized pie pumpkin hollowed out and roasted until al dente used as a soup tureen or caldron, especially for a Halloween Supper. Toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds and some more fresh parsley sprinkled on top would be a nice touch.
This is my very own recipe that I came up with based on this recipe and this recipe from Cooks.com. Making up recipes that turn out as well as this one did is really gratifying. I also have to give kudos to my grandmother, Iola Gavin and my husband at the time, Skip Lewellyn who was a chef, for teaching me how to cook.
When I got married I didn’t even know how to cook cream of wheat, Skip’s favorite hot cereal, without it being full of lumps. Frankly, I thought cream of wheat was supposed to have lumps in it because that’s the only way I had ever had it. Let’s just say that while my Mother could and did cook some things very well she was an indifferent cook at best. She didn’t particularly enjoy cooking. It was just something she had to do as a Mom and Wife.
My Grandma Gavin, on the other hand, was a goddess in the kitchen. I can remember sitting at her kitchen table in the house on Brown Street in Clay Center, NE watching her bake bread, make donuts and cakes and fry chicken. I loved being there with her. I loved eating her food. One of my fondest memories of Grandma Gavin is of her making chocolate cake for someone’s birthday and pulling a jar of home-canned dill pickles out of the refrigerator and pouring some of the juice into a measuring cup with really thick fresh from the farm cows cream in it. She winked at me and said “Now, Barbara, don’t you tell anyone you saw me do this. This is my secret ingredient that makes the cakes taste so good.” Isn’t that great? I think about Grandma Gavin a lot when I am in the kitchen.
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