Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Roast Pepper, Garlic, and Pumpkin Soup

My Halloween experience has morphed into a series of half-assed costumes, morally questionable decisions, and inappropriate quantities of alcohol, often ingested through the coarse whiskers of a fake mustache. But it wasn’t always like that, I used to be passionate about All Hallows’ Eve, and it’s not that I have something against adult women wearing lewd summer outfits on 30 degree October nights, it’s just that some of the magic of childhood seems to have faded.

As a child, both my parents, and in this case probably doubly so my father, truly celebrated Halloween; although in retrospect, I think my father was probably more attached to mischief night, but was having a hard time sharing that with his eight year old. Unlike school concerts, swim meets, and little league games, Halloween was almost as much about them as it was me; uncommitted parents rarely dress in full costume to take their 18 month old trick or treating. And while Christmas lights were usually hung on the coldest night of the year, after my father came home from work, Halloween decorations were an all day affair.

Faux gravestones lined our long driveway, with some of the creepiest sounds you can imagine reverberating from hidden outdoor speakers, as jack o lanterns and candles lined the walkways. And once the mood was set, ghosts and goblins were strung on elaborate pulley systems rigged to pop out and scare unsuspecting candy fiends. Yet in my neighborhood, rather than being the exception, our house was the rule, with competition growing yearly, so much so that my most successful of neighbors had several years where some of the youngest children refused to visit his house. It was good times, with a strange mixture of excitement and fear, creating the perfect cocktail to get a young boys adrenaline pumping. I suppose the only challenge now is to somehow recapture those feelings of yesteryear;….although admittedly, that fear driven rush is a little harder to capture after a healthy dose of moonshine.

Roast Pepper, Garlic, and Pumpkin Soup
Serves: 8
3 Red Bell Peppers
2 Cherry Bomb Peppers
1/8 c Mustard
1 Whole Garlic Bulb
Olive Oil
2/3 C Chooped Shallot
1/2 tbsp anise
2 tbsp butter
1 3/4 lbs edible pumpkin or squash
4 c chicken stock
2 c water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c cream

Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the top off of the garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil and salt and wrap in tin foil before placing in the oven for 30-40 minutes. When cool squeeze out the garlic and set aside.

Increase the oven temp to 500°. Place all five peppers well coated in olive oil and salt on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Rotating until the peppers are completely charred, at which point they can be removed and placed in a glass bowl covered with saran wrap to cool. This will help to loosen the skins which can be removed once cool.

Cook the shallot, garlic, and anise in butter over medium heat until the shallots are soft. Add the pumpkin, stock, and water and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender. Add the roast garlic and peppers and continue to simmer for an additional five minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor in 2-3 batches until very smooth and return to a clean pan. Return the soup to a simmer and add the cream. season with salt & pepper. Serve.