Pumpkin soup, Lyon style
This rich soup of pumpkin, potato, cream and grated Comté cheese hails from Lyon, one of the gastronomic capitals of France. It works equally well as a starter or as the main course of a light meal, accompanied by a green salad.
If you enjoy fresh herbs with your soup, as I do, serve them on the side or sprinkle them onto the soup as you serve it. Traditionally, however, this soup is served as is, with a little more grated cheese — and possibly a few croutons — on top.
1-1/2 pounds (750 g.) fresh pumpkin
2 medium potatoes
1/2 leek (the white half)
2 tbsp. butter
4 cups (1 liter) water
2 tsp. sea salt or table salt
1 bay leaf
4 ounces (100 g.) Comté, Gruyère or a similar cheese
2 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream
freshly grated nutmeg
finely snipped fresh herbs: dill, cilantro, or basil (optional)
Remove the pumpkin’s stringy interior and seeds. Using a very sharp knife, cut the pumpkin into large cubes. Slice off the rind, and cut the remaining flesh into pieces about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick.
Peel and cube the potatoes.
Rinse the leek and slice crosswise into pieces about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the vegetables and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful not to let the veggies brown.
Add the water, sea salt and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook until the veggies are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
Purée the soup. Return to a clean pot and place over low heat.
Add the cream and whisk to blend. Grate the cheese finely and whisk in. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary — the soup may need more salt. Using a nutmeg grater, grate in a little fresh nutmeg (too much would overwhelm the soup).
Serve piping hot, topped with a little grated cheese if you like, with extra cream and some finely snipped herbs on the side. Serves 4.