Week 45 - Cream of Pumpkin Soup and Herbed Biscuits

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For week 45, I decided to make cream of pumpkin soup from "The Fireside Cook Book" by James A. Beard, published in 1949. To go with it, I also made the recipe for herbed biscuits, from the same book.

 The 1949 book "The Fireside Cook Book" by James A. Beard

The 1949 book "The Fireside Cook Book" by James A. Beard

 Title page of the cookbook showing a few of the Provensen Illustration

Title page of the cookbook showing a few of the Provensen Illustration

While James A. Beard was a well known cookbook author and his cookbooks prized by many, this cookbook first came to my attention a few years ago because it featured illustrations by two of my favorite illustrators, Alice and Martin Provensen.  I searched for this cookbook for years only to find that many copies had been ripped apart and the illustrations sold separately as prints. Those books still left intact were often quite pricey.  Eventually, I managed to find an inexpensive copy in great condition.  The illustrations, which range from full color spreads to simpler, two color spot illustrations, are quite wonderful and charming so I understand the temptation to pull them out of the book and frame them, but my love of books would never allow this to happen.

 End paper illusttrations

End paper illusttrations

 Fabulous spot illustration

Fabulous spot illustration

 One of the may full-color illustrations throughout the book

One of the may full-color illustrations throughout the book

In my freezer I had a batch of pureed pumpkin I made last winter, but never knew what to do with it.  So, when I found the recipe for cream of pumpkin soup, I decided that would be the perfect thing to try.  The pumpkin I used was a variety called a Long Island Cheese pumpkin. The wide, squat pumpkin has a light orange skin with a waxy appearance and dark orange flesh. The flesh of the pumpkin is dryer than those used for jack-o-lanterns and very flavorful.  I wanted to have something to go with the soup, so found a recipe for herbed biscuits that seemed easy and for which I already had the ingredients.

 The ingredients for cream of pumpkin soup. That is a long island cheese pumpkin is in the background.

The ingredients for cream of pumpkin soup. That is a long island cheese pumpkin is in the background.

 The ingredients for herbed biscuits

The ingredients for herbed biscuits

The soup recipe called for the use of a double boiler, so I decided to use my vintage Pyrex Flameware one.  Unfortunately, the water boiled out of the lower portion causing the outer portion of the double-boiler to crack in half.   So, I moved the soup to a regular metal pot and finished cooking it there.

 The soup cooking in my double boiler

The soup cooking in my double boiler

 A vintage Pyrex tragedy

A vintage Pyrex tragedy

Once the soup had finished cooking, I added the cream and continued heating.  Initially the finished soup was rather chunky. While I had pureed the initial pumpkin, it wasn't enough, so the soup had chunks of stringy pumpkin floating around it it.  To fix this, I ran the soup through a blender, which smoothed it out and made for a much creamier soup with a more uniform taste and texture.

 Soup with cream added

Soup with cream added

 Pumpkin soup after it had been through a blender

Pumpkin soup after it had been through a blender

I've made plenty of biscuits before and this recipe was no different from the usual method.  It called for fresh herbs and I chose to use parsley and green onion.

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The biscuits were light and the herbs added a nice flavor.  More importantly, they worked very well with the pumpkin soup which was delicious and creamy.  Looking through the rest of the cookbook, I can see a large number of recipes that sound great and that I am looking forward to trying them.

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Week 45 Roundup

Cookbook: "The Fireside Cook Book" by James A. Beard, Illustrate by Alice and Martin Provensen, published in 1949

Recipe: Cream of pumpkin soup and Herbed biscuits

Difficulty: Easy

Alterations: None

Results: Initially the pumpkin was not pureed enough so the soup was a bit chunky. Once blended, the soup was very good.

Make Again: Yes, but I don't recommend a glass double boilder.