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October 29, 2013
Written by , Posted in Hoilday, Recipes, Soup

Tricked-Out Halloween Pumpkin Bisque

Featuring Garlicky White Asparaghosts, Spirit-Repellent Sage, and Maple Candied Corn (The Ultimate Treat)

Featuring Garlicky White Asparaghosts, Spirit-Repellent Sage, and Maple Candied Corn (The Ultimate Treat)

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Pumpkins are the obvious pick for intertwining Halloween with cooking, but if there were ever a vegetable with ties to the supernatural, it would have to be the wan  and only, white asparagus.

You’re familiar with its kale-colored cousin, which gets its zombie-like complexion from mercilessly devouring other verdant veggies and then basking in the sun.  (Okay, okay: just the latter.)

White asparagus, on the other hand, derives its alabaster epidermis from etiolation, or the deprivation of light.  These (clearly evil) aspara-guys live beneath mounds of dirt, avoiding UV exposure and inhibiting chlorophyll production that typically turns them green.

In other words, they’re vampire  veggies.

But fear not, fellow food-lovers: there’s always a way to fight foul metaphysical forces (even edible ones), and much like bloodsuckers, white asparagus has an inherent weakness for garlic.  A quick sauté in olive oil with chopped garlic morphs its supple stalks into appetizing, otherworldly entities that are much easier to manage:  white asparaghosts.

Boo asparaghost

Use your utmost patience and dexterity to adorn each asparaghost with “eyes” and a “mouth” using large grains of coarsely ground black pepper (or just let the kids handle this fun detail while you pilot the stovetop).

With their tender crunch and delicate flavor, white asparaghosts are the ghoulest  guests to crash the traditional Halloween pumpkin soup party.

Asparaghosts 2

Luckily for everyone, fresh sage is an integral part of this recipe, too, so you won’t have to worry about any asparaghosts possessing you after you eat them.

Known for having spook-repellent powers, velvety sage has been used for centuries by healers and paranormal experts to “purify” spirit-infested abodes, so your bisque will be safe as long as you add this potent herb.

The final holiday tie-in makes up for the fact that most of us are too old to trick-or-treat, so we’ll celebrate the sweeter side of Halloween with decadent maple candied corn.

Don’t worry: I don’t mean the colorful, stalactite-shaped candy that rots your molars; I’m talking about real corn  sauteed in butter and kissed with pure maple syrup and brown sugar.  These nectarous niblets add a burst of milky sweetness to the mix, completing this three-part Halloween harmony with one last delectable note.

Serve this as first course for the Ultimate Halloween Dinner Party, and be extra-awesome by serving it in nifty pumpkin bowls. To do this, carefully cut off the tops of your pumpkins and remove all the seeds (I recommend using an ice cream scooper); then, lightly drizzle both sides with a blend of oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees, until it’s fork tender.

Let them cool, then ladle in the soup and garnish with fresh sage leaves, candied corn, and white asparaghosts.

BIG bisque

Tricked-Out Halloween Pumpkin Bisque

Featuring Garlicky White Asparaghosts, Spirit-Repellent Sage, and Maple Candied Corn

 

Ingredients:

Bisque

1 small sugar pumpkin, about 2.5 lbs, halved, cleaned and seeded

3 TBSP melted butter or olive oil (or a combination or both)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

2 TBSP pure maple syrup (for roasting pumpkin)

salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

2 cups chicken or veal stock

1.5 cups heavy cream, reduced to 3/4 cup

1 TBSP (packed) fresh chopped sage

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (to add to the soup)

Candied Corn

3 ears of corn, husked, cleaned, and kernels removed

1 TBSP butter or olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 tsp brown sugar

3 TBSP pure maple syrup

salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

White Asparaghosts

One bunch of white asparagus, tips trimmed off in 1.5- to 2-inch pieces

2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped

1 TBSP butter or olive oil

salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

2 TBSP orange juice

Pumpkin Bowls

1 sugar pumpkin, top carefully removed

1 TBSP olive oil or melted butter

salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice

 

Instructions:

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter/oil, spices, and maple syrup, and then coat the pumpkin halves in it thoroughly. Place on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about an hour.

While the pumpkin is roasting, make the candied corn. Remove the kernels neatly by taking a large bowl and fitting a smaller bowl upside-down inside of it. Hold each ear of corn upright atop the upside-down bowl, and when you slice downward, the kernels will all stay in the larger bowl. Reserve kernels aside for later.

Melt butter (or heat oil) in a saute pan over medium heat, and then add the minced shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the corn and saute until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Break up the brown sugar in the maple syrup, then drizzle it over the corn and stir it in. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and reserve for later.

While the pumpkin is still  cooking, get the asparaghosts ready. Slice the asparagus tips off the stalks and reserve. Peel and chop the garlic, then heat the oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the asparagus and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking another minute or two. Add in the orange juice and let it reduce au sec, or until a thick, syrupy sauce forms.

Once cooked, allow the asparagus to cool down until it’s easy to handle. Meanwhile, crack some morsels of coarse black pepper into a small bowl (these will be the eyes and mouths of your asparaghosts). Then, use your index finger to dot each asparaghost with eyes and a mouth.

Once the pumpkin is cooked tender, allow it to cool until you can safely remove the flesh from the skin. Discard the skin, then add 1 TBSP butter/oil to a pot over medium heat. Add in the cooked pumpkin, and begin to smash it down with a masher, whisk or fork as you heat it for about 3 minutes. Add in the chicken or veal stock slowly, stirring/mashing it into the pumpkin carefully so as not to splash everywhere. Continue adding stock until you achieve a thick, bisque-like consistency.

In a separate pan, bring the heavy cream to a boil and reduce it, whisking constantly to avoid it bubbling over. Then, slowly whisk the cream into the soup. Oh, the delicious swirls! Bring to a boil and then immediately turn the heat down to a low simmer.

Season with salt, pepper, fresh sage and more maple syrup, stir, cover, and continue simmering for 10 minutes.

Let the soup cool down, and puree it with an immersion blender (or in small batches a food processor or blender).

Ladle the soup into your pumpkin bowls, garnish with fresh sage, candied corn and white asparaghosts, and serve to your guests.

This spooky soup will surely scare away any Halloween hunger.

happy halloween soup