Soupe à la courge at aux Châtaignes served in a Pumpkin for Halloween

Madeleine Montabert lives in the medieval village of Crillon-le-Brave in Provence. She is the owner and chef of “Cooking in Provence”, a sophisticated small cooking school. There, in a morning, you can learn how to prepare a genuine French home-cooked  meal with local produce  and you get to taste it as well with your fellow chefs in training. No big crowds, just a few people in her home kitchen in a peaceful Provençal village close to Mont Ventoux, one of Lance Armstrong’s toughest challenge. Madeleine was kind enough to offer to share a recipe from one of her sample meals. So here is her “Soupe à la courge et aux châtaignes”  (squash and chestnut soup).


The original recipe  from “Cooking in Provence” is reprinted below with permission:

Soupe de courge et châtaignes:

1 kg de courge, 150 g de châtaignes épluchées (l’utilisation de châtaignes pelées surgelées est un gain de temps appréciable si vous êtes pressés !), 12 cl de crème épaisse, ¾ litre d’eau, ¼ litre de lait, ciboulette, noix de muscade, sel, poivre.

  1. Rincer et ôter toute trace de terre de la tranche de courge. Oter les filaments et pépins, puis l’éplucher.
  2. Couper la chair de la courge en dés (dés de taille égale pour qu’ils aient tous le même temps de cuisson). Placer les dans une casserole.
  3. Ajouter les châtaignes pelées, l’eau, le lait, et le sel. Porter à ébullition puis réduire le feu. Remuer de temps à autre pendant la cuisson (environ 30 mn) jusqu’à ce que les dés de courges soient tendres et se laissent facilement transpercer par les dents d’une fourchette.
  4. Mixer le tout (avec un robot plongeur) jusqu’à une consistence crémeuse.
  5. Juste avant de servir, remettre la casserole sur feu doux, ajouter la crème, le poivre et la noix de muscade.
  6. Goûter et rectifier l’assaisonnement. Servir chaud parsemé de ciboulette hachée.

In case this is chinese to you or French, here is what I did. I  had to make a few changes, as the vegetables are not quite the same here. We don’t have “potiron”, the squash that goes into the soup. Pumpkin would not work, it is a different species with different taste and texture. After Halloween though, you can use  a large pumpkin as a soup tureen, great way to recycle and show off with presentation.

First, I boiled the fresh chestnuts in water for nearly 30 minutes and then peeled the shells and the brown skins off. This is much easier to do if you cut a small piece of the shell before cooking with a sharp knife. Then, I peeled the squash  with a potato peeler (a mix of butternut, carnival and kabocha), cleaned it and boiled 1 kg in one liter of chicken broth with 2 cloves of garlic. I added 1 cup of milk, waited for the boil again and pureed everything together (squash,  3/4 cup chestnut, broth). Back to the pot  on low with 1/2 cup of  cream or sour cream, salt and fresh ground pepper, and grated nutmeg if you like it! I served this soup inside a hollowed pumpkin. On the side, I offered garlic croutons, grated cheese and of course, the chopped chives! The soup turned out to be very smooth and creamy with a lovely chestnut after-taste.

 

Carnival,Butternut, Kabocha

 

 

Chestnut

 

For more information on “Cooking in Provence” go to : www.cookinginprovence.fr

Crillon-le-Brave is a wonderful village close to the Ventoux and Chateau-Neuf du Pape vineyards. It is a great area for cycling, browsing antiques, lingering at cafés, tasting olive oil and to enjoy all the foods of Provence.

 

Crillon le Brave

 

 

Olive tree

 




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3 Responses to Soupe à la courge at aux Châtaignes served in a Pumpkin for Halloween

  1. Pingback: Orange Recipes for Halloween Dinner | The Cooking Frog's Blog

  2. There is a lot of confusion with pumpkin species.
    From what I understand the Jack o lantern is cucurbita pepo (pumpkin or citrouille), while Hubbard, kabocha, butternut etc… are maxima or those we call squash (the French, courge).
    Cinderella definitely a maxima, close to the common species grown in France, or “potiron”.
    I have bought some seeds when I was in France, and Richard and I are going to grow some Potiron next year!
    In the meantime, Dan’s the man, I will try to drive out there soon.

  3. Linda says:

    I bought a pumpkin at Dan’s Farm that may be what you are looking for. It is a French pumpkin – here is some info from a website that sells the seeds: “The Pumpkin French Cinderella, ‘Cucurbita maxima’, is a beautiful French antique heirloom with vibrant mahogany-orange skin that transformed into a coach for Cinderella. The French Cinderella is also called Rouge Vif D’etampes. The Cinderella is a very striking pumpkin with deep ridges and is large sized, up to 15-20 pounds. This pumpkin looks good even if you do not carve it. The flesh is excellent eaten as a winter squash. Tell your kids you are going to grow Cinderella’s carriage!”

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