Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Melting Cheese
The lovely thing about pumpkin is that it has a really velvety texture in soup, and if it's oven-roasted before you add it to the soup, it gives an unusual nuttiness to the flavour.
Just before serving, add little cubes of quick melting cheese like Gruyere or, if you're lucky enough to get it, Fontina. Then finding little bits of half-melted cheese in the soup that stretch up on the spoon is an absolute delight.
Begin by cutting the pumpkin in half through the stalk,then cut each half into 4 again and scoop out the seeds using a large spoon.
Then brush the surface of each section with the oil and place them on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, then pop them on a high shelf of the oven to roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender when tested with a skewer.
Meanwhile melt the butter in a large saucepan over a high heat, add the onion, stir it round and when it begins to colour round the edges, after about 5 minutes, turn the heat down. Let it cook very gently without a lid, giving it a stir from time to time, for about 20 minutes. Then remove the pumpkin from the oven and leave it aside to cool. Now add the stock and the milk to the onions, and leave them with the heat turned low to slowly come up to simmering point. Next scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin with a sharp knife and add it to the stock together with a seasoning of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Then let it all simmer very gently for about 15-20 minutes. Next the soup should be processed to a puree.
Because there's a large volume of soup, it's best to do this in two halves. What you need to do is whiz it until it's smoothly blended, but as an extra precaution it's best to pass it through a sieve as well in case there are any unblended fibrous bits. Taste and season well, then when you're ready to serve the soup, re-heat it gently just up to simmering point, being careful not to let it boil. Finally, stir in the diced cheese, then ladle the soup into warm soup bowls.
Garnish each bowl with a teaspoonful of creme fraiche and scatter with the grated cheese, a few croutons as well, if you like them, and a sprinkling of parsley.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 9, 475 F (240 C).
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