Soups are a nice start to a Thanksgiving meal for a couple of reasons. First, it immediately slows down the eagerness to jump right into this feast of many dishes and second, it allows the hostess a bit of breathing room should anything need to be warmed up further. And while the soup dishes are being cleared, hopefully by a few helpful teens, final touches to the dinner can be made and those same teens can begin bringing on the meal!
I like to serve soup in a beautiful tureen, ladling out into small bowls. I am truly aware of not overstuffing my guests on a day that everyone ends up feeling like taking a nap! So I offer lots of interesting, small portions of food. A fresh bread basket is nice to serve with the soup but not wanting to get filled up on bread, I toasted up some of my pumpkin bagels into crutons.
When I was growing up, soups were not a part of our Thanksgiving dinner. It was pasta that started out the meal! I believe every Italian family, and as my sister, cousins and Chicago John can attest, had some form of pasta before or with the turkey! On top of that, as my birthday falls around the holiday, birthday cake was part of the desserts! Just like Christmas babies, I always wanted my own celebration but having all the family gathered together, it was just easier to celebrate on that day. (Of course, as soon as I began my own traditions, pasta was eliminated and birthday cake too!!)
Because corn was a prominent part of the first Thanksgiving feasts, I have always tried to have a corn dish included in the meal. Making a simple corn chowder, I eliminated using potatoes for thickening and added in roasted pumpkin. I prefer to have a chunkier soup so I used an immersion blender to lightly blend the soup. For the broth, I used turkey stock, but chicken broth or even a vegetable broth could be used. (To make vegetarian, omit the pancetta as well.) Made a few weeks ahead, this soup would freeze well, just don’t add the cream until ready to reheat.
Corn Chowder with Roasted Pumpkin
For the roasted pumpkin and garlic:
1 fresh pumpkin, about 1 lb, seeded, fibers removed and cut into quarters
1 whole garlic bulb, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the chowder:
3 ears of corn cut off the cob or 3 cups frozen
4 oz pancetta, chopped
1 small onion diced
1 small red pepper, diced
6 cups turkey stock or chicken broth
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup organic cream
Crumbled gorgonzola or grated cheddar for garnish
To roast the pumpkin and garlic:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet toss the pumpkin with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the pumpkin evenly on the sheet. Place the garlic halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Cool slightly, peel the pumpkin and set aside or refrigerate overnight.
To make the chowder:
In a large soup pot, saute the pancetta until crisp. Remove and set aside. Saute the onion and pepper until soft about 5 minutes. Add in the pumpkin, roasted garlic (squeezed from the skins), corn, stock, pancetta and thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Using an emersion blender, process the chowder slighty to thicken but leaving partially chunky. Alternately, use a blender to blend the chowder to your desired creaminess. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in cream and cook until heated through, do not allow to boil. Serve with cheese and toasted crutons. Pumpkin and garlic can be made two days ahead, chowder can be made one day ahead. Bring chowder to room temperature before heating.
This soup is part of my Thanksgiving Countdown. If you’d like to share your favorite soup for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.
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I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.