Pumpkins are one of our favorite harvest foods: Sweet, earthy and overflowing with health-promoting beta-carotenes. Here they are combined with leeks, apples and cider to make a spicy, hearty soup, perfect for gathering the family around a steaming tureen. Warm and nourishing, this harvest pumpkin soup makes us happy it is autumn.
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, or 4 cups freshly-baked pumpkin chunks (if using fresh pumpkin, bake seeded pumpkin at 400F until tender, then peel and chop coarsely)
1 large leek, cleaned, white parts chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 celery root, peeled and chopped
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and chopped
7 cups good-quality vegetable broth
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon crumbled fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Dash of nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (optional)
1. Gently steam the leeks, onion, celery root, and apples in a large Dutch oven or soup pot with 1/2 cup of the broth until soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Add remaining stock and pumpkin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add ginger, sage, thyme, salt, turmeric, nutmeg, and a few grinds of pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
3. Process about half the soup in a blender or with a hand-held blender. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in the cider and yogurt. Soup should be slightly chunky. Gently heat, but do not boil. Sprinkle each bowl of hot soup with a little Cheddar, if using.