So I went for a pumpkin-theme in the dinner for the girls. I did a pumpkin-cheddar-soup and butternut squash crostinis. Even the pickiest in the room loved it.
Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup
Serves 3 to 4
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 large leek, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 1/2 tablespoons minced thyme
1 (12 ounce) bottle pumpkin ale
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk (low-fat is fine)
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
simple butter croutons:
1 cup diced sourdough bread
3 1/2 tablespoon melted salted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. For croutons: Place all ingredients into a bowl and toss together until evenly coated. Pour croutons into a large skillet and place over medium heat. Toast croutons for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool and crisp. Set aside until ready to use.
2. For soup: Pour oil into a medium pot and place over medium-high heat. Add onion and leek and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until onions and leeks become translucent. Add garlic, carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper.
3. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes and stir in 2 tablespoons thyme. Add broth and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetable mixture is fork tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In another medium pot melt butter. Whisk in flour to create a roux and continue to whisk for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in milk until no lumps remaining and mixture thickens. Stir in pumpkin puree until smooth. Toss cheese together with lemon juice before stirring into the milk mixture. Stir until cheese sauce is smooth. Stir in remaining spices.
5. Pour cheese mixture and broth mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture back into a pot and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until soup thickens slightly. Stir in remaining thyme and adjust seasonings.
6. Ladle soup into bowls and top with buttered croutons. Serve.