Pumpkin Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese Mousse by Kathy Gunst


A soothing, warming soup perfect for the holidays. To make this creamy pumpkin soup even more satisfying, try topping with a dollop of goat cheese "mousse," created by simply mixing softened goat cheese into whipped cream. Add a spoonful of the mousse to the soup just before serving.

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Soft-Ripened Cheeses

The Soup:
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 small onion, very finely chopped
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* Three 15-ounce cans pumpkin (unsweetened*)
* 6 cups chicken broth
* 1/4 packed cup brown sugar

Herbed Goat Cheese Mousse:
* 1 cup chilled heavy cream
* 4 ounces herbed or plain goat cheese, at room temperature, such as Ile de France
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme


* Melt butter and olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is completely soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and cook another 3 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken broth and bring the soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Add brown sugar, crushing it first in your hands to smooth out the lumps. Mix well.

* Meanwhile, make the Herbed goat cheese mousse: using an electric or stand mixer, whip the cream until it holds together in soft peaks. With the machine off, crumble in the goat cheese, salt, pepper, and thyme. Turn machine on to medium speed and whip goat cheese and cream together until uniform, about 1 minute, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Chill until ready to use.

* The soup and the goat cheese mousse can be made several hours ahead of time.

* Reheat the soup and serve hot, topping each bowl with a tablespoon-sized dollop of Herbed goat cheese mousse. Serves 4 to 6.

* If you'd like, you can use fresh pumpkin for this soup instead.

* Preheat your oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spread about a tablespoon of olive oil over the foil. Cut a medium-sized pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and place halves cut-side down on baking sheet. Bake 45 to 60 minutes (depending on the type and size of your pumpkin), or until a fork pierces the skin easily. Let cool about 10 minutes, then scrape the pumpkin flesh into the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. You'll need 5 1/4 cups of pumpkin puree.

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