Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Soup with Blue Cheese, Mushrooms and Pecans

Thanksgiving 2010 has come and gone like a flash of light. The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year. The air has certain crispness and there is a sense of happiness all around. It is a time where shopping malls are crowded, scents of holiday cookies fill houses to a jam packed social calendar with fun holiday events abounding.

It is a cold, raining Saturday morning as I write this post. We were up early to decorate the house since it is an all day event. I grew up with a real Christmas tree that was flocked to simulate a just snow frosted tree, even thought it rarely snows in the Bay Area. To this day my parents still purchase the same type of tree.

{ Pumpkin Soup with Pecan-Cheddar Gougeres }

For several years, we carried on this tradition until a trip one day to home depot forever changed Christmas at our house. There it was – the “Perfect Tree”. It stood nine feet tall with two distinct types of branches and each light was perfectly positioned all throughout the tree. Let's just say it impressed me enough to change to an artificial tree.

We now go to the garage, unpack the three part tree, snap it into place, plug in the lights and instantly we have what I call – “My Neiman Marcus Christmas Tree”. Each year it is perfect. I simply add my ornaments and for the next 5 to 6 weeks it adorns our living room and brings the holiday spirit to life.

Next is the staircase to decorate. I have four strands of different greens and embellishments to adorn the staircase. Our stairs sit right in the middle of the house and are a definite focal point when you enter the front door. I grew up with a curved staircase that my Mom always decorates and was the inspiration for my holiday touches.

Our entire family collects “Department 56” which is small decorative houses and buildings. We are fond of “Christmas in the City” and “Dickens Village”. I must admit that it is a bit of an addition with our family. Since it is a labor intensive process to erect these throughout the house, we were strategic this year by putting on top of bookcases for easy assembly and take down.

Other finishing touches will be completed today both inside and outside our home to have it ready to enjoy through the season. Although it is a process, we have the holiday music piped throughout the house and enjoy this tradition of decorating the house during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. My husband and enjoyed a piping hot mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows. We will then be ready for celebrating in our home with friends throughout this joyful time of year.

To carry on the tradition of the Thanksgiving weekend, I am a bit obsessed with pumpkin this year and created a pumpkin soup that was originally from Cooks Illustrated: Soups, Stews and Chilies. I put my own spin on the soup and creative toppings. Enjoy!!

Pumpkin Soup with Blue Cheese, Mushrooms and Pecans

2 T. Butter
1 T. Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
2 Ribs celery, finely chopped
1 t. Cumin
1 t. Coriander
1/4 t. Nutmeg
3 C. Chicken broth, plus extra for thinning
1 - 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1/3 C. Maple syrup
1/2 C. Milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dry roasted pecans and blue cheese for garnish

Sautéed Mushrooms

12 to 14 Baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 T. Butter
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and toss well in the butter and olive oil until coated. Cook over medium high heat for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper


Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and nutmeg. Continue to sauté and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the broth, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the soup to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and syrup and cook an additional 10 minutes.

Use an emulsion blender to puree the soup until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the milk and additional broth to adjust the soup's consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat gently over low heat until hot. Garnish individual bowls with pecans, mushrooms and blue cheese.


  1. I'm from the Bay Area too and we always had a flocked tree!! I remember being so frustrated as my dad would sometimes flock it himself so we had to wait till "tomorrow" to decorate the tree. We now have the same tree you do!
    Love this soup! I actually had that book, but missed this one. The mushrooms just look beautiful. Thanks for post it!

  2. This made my stomach was like, "I want that...make me that!!!" gorgeous recipe!

  3. Boy this cheese, mushrooms and pecans all together in a pumpkin soup? I feel it's already Christmas! The pics are amazing, I can almost smell it!

  4. wow what a wonderful soup first class

  5. yee, another Christmas lover, but I'm also a lover of fresh Christmas tree and each year is a tradition in our family weekend after Thanksgiving to pick the tree from home depot and put the lights on, then next weekend put the ornaments.
    the soup sounds delicious. I'm going to steal your idea of adding blue cheese to pumpkin soup, thanks for sharing.
    Hope you're having a wonderful weekend

  6. You are all set for the next holiday! Decorated and celebrating with this lovely soup. I bet it smells wonderful. I like the garnishes you've topped it with. I can almost taste and smell it with your images and list of ingredients. Thx for sharing :)

  7. I love pumpkin soup and make it often :) I've never added nutmeg before - I'll have to try that!

  8. What a festive soup with all those special flavors. I bet it fits quite well with your home that is now full of Christmas cheer. I just had store-bough butternut squash soup and I'm even more disappointed with it now after reading about this fantastic pumpkin soup.

  9. What a delicious way to use pumpkin and blue cheese!

  10. I can't believe it!! I have all these ingredients in my fridge...Guess what I'm cooking tonight????
    Thanks for the idea !!

  11. All this holiday and decorating talk is making me think of fun parties coming up!

    I'm from New England and I can't recall anyone having something other than a green Christmas tree. I guess with all of our trees covered in snow for Christmas we didn't need it inside too!


  12. What a beautiful soup Lisa! I have not been around much lately so Happy belated Thanksgiving. I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday.


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