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Holidays + Pumpkin Soup & Fried Sage Leaves

by Margaret on November 22, 2011

 

Holidays: Once-in-awhile you want to dive in, other times you just want to skip out. 

Either way, I always look forward to Thanksgiving.

And I don’t even eat turkey.

But it’s so not about the turkey. (You know that.)

 

 

It’s about gathering to celebrate the season’s bounty and taking time to appreciate and absorb it all.

Grateful for what you have. Simple pleasures.

Food. Friends. Family.

How you mix up your guest list or what you serve and when, is up to you—there are no rules.

Just don’t stress out if one dish doesn’t go as planned, or if it’s super late before everyone finally sits down.

I mean, heck, the leftovers “are the best part of Thanksgiving” anyway.

If you’re hosting a big gathering, though, preparation is a good thing. At my house we each have a role in preparation for the day: my husband is in command of the turkey, the dressing and the mashed potatoes. My son bakes the pumpkin pie (the day before). I play with the sides and place flowers everywhere (I love setting the scene). My sister-in-law bakes another pie and whips-up a cranberry side. The kids set the table and help clear when we are ready.

 

 

All of my ingredients for the feast came from local sources. In anticipation for the day I blanched and froze a pile of late summer green beans along with cooked pumpkin flesh ready for pie/bread/soup from the one cheese pumpkin I grew in the yard.

And at the West Chester Growers’ Market this weekend I picked up: potatoes (to mash), sweet potatoes, leeks, carrots, onions, garlic (to roast), bread (for stuffing) Brussels sprouts, broccoli and spinach for later in the week. The pasture-raised bird was ordered from Lindenhoff Farm.

My husband likes a more traditional menu. I like to experiment a little. So we do a a bit of both.

And with all that pumpkin flesh in the freezer, this year’s prelude to the feast includes pumpkin soup and fried sage leaves.

Happy Thanksgiving! (Here’s to mixing things up a little).

If you’re looking for a few interesting sides + good stories, check out the links below from my favorite food sites:

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo

Crusted Butternut Squash

Spinach Pkhali 

Thanksgiving in 5 ingredients or Fewer

A French American Thanksgiving holiday

 

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves

(From Stonewall Kitchen Harvest) 

YOU’LL HAVE LEFTOVER PUMPKIN. HERE’S HOW TO PREP IT FOR THE FREEZER

2 pounds sugar pumpkin (we used a cheese pumpkin, it’s not stringy and it’s super sweet)

1 tbs olive oil

3 leeks (about 2 cups cut into 1-inch pieces)

1 tbs chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried

1 tbs chopped fresh sage

salt and pepper to taste

7 cups stock

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove seeds and stringy sections and discard (or save seeds to roast or plant next summer). Cut the pumpkin into 2-to-3 inch chunks; carefully cut rind off and cut the flesh into 1 to 2-inch pieces. You should have about 8 cups.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add leeks and sauté, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes. Add pumpkin chunks, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and add stock, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.

Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Puree the soup in a blender of food processor, working in batches. Season to taste and return pureed soup to pot to warm over low heat.

Garnish with cream or creme fraiche, or swirl into the bowls, and top with a few croutons and fried sage leaves.

FRIED SAGE LEAVES

Clean and pat dry a bunch of fresh sage leaves.

Snip off and separate into small bundles.

Heat 2 to 3 cups olive or safflower oil in a medium sized, heavy skillet over high heat until the oil just begins to smoke.

Very carefully lower the sage into the hot oil (the oil is hot enough when the sage leaves immediately begin to sizzle.)

Fry for about 30 seconds. Remove sage with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels or a clean brown bag.

Don’t fry leaves more than 15 minutes ahead of time or they will wilt. Sprinkle fried leaves with sea salt.

(Apparently fried sage leaves are delicious served alongside a martini. In case you like that sorta thing.)

 

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