A look inside “Canal House Cooks Every Day”

The newest cookbook from Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, “Canal House Cooks Every Day,” is simply lovely. The authors have written many books and blog at Canal House Cooks Lunch. It’s a blog worth checking out, if for the photographs alone.

The book chronicles a year of cooking in the Canal House kitchen. The recipes are examples of things Christopher and Melissa cook every day; some are simple and others much more complex. The photography is gorgeous.

A spread on preserving lemons

Thanksgiving, in the Autumn section of the book

The book is arranged seasonally, which makes sense, especially because more and more of us are cooking this way. As the seasons change, I imagine I’ll be intrigued by different recipes in this book; for now, the fall and winter dishes look delicious. I kept that in mind when I chose the recipe I wanted to share in this post.

I decided to share a seasonal soup recipe that I’ve been itching to make myself. The soup cooks slowly in the oven inside the pumpkin shell. To serve, the inside of the gourd is scraped and the soft flesh goes into the bowl along with the seasonings and broth. Mmm.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Serves 6–8

Use a heavy, thick-fleshed pumpkin variety like the orange Cinderella (Rouge Vif d’Etampes), the beige cheese, or the blue Jarrahdale for this soup. Their thick sturdy walls won’t collapse as the pumpkin roasts in the oven.

1 Cinderella, cheese, or blue Jarrahdale pumpkin, 5–8 pounds
4–8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
2 generous pinches of piment d’Espelette (Basque red chile powder)
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2–3 cups grated Gruyère cheese
2 bay leaves
4–6 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut out a wide lid around the stem of the pumpkin, scrape off and discard any seeds, and set the lid aside. Using a metal spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds and strings from the inside.

Put the pumpkin in a roasting pan. Rub the flesh inside the pumpkin with the butter, then with the ground fennel, piment d’Espelette, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, and bay leaves. Pour enough stock into the pumpkin to come within about 3 inches of the rim. Fit the lid back on the pumpkin.

Roast the pumpkin for 1 hour. Remove the lid and place it flesh side up beside the pumpkin. Continue roasting the pumpkin until the flesh inside is soft when pierced with a paring knife, taking care not to puncture the skin, 30–90 minutes depending on the size of the pumpkin. Carefully transfer the pumpkin to a serving platter. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Replace the lid for effect, if you like. Serve the pumpkin soup at the table, scraping big spoonfuls of the flesh from the bottom and sides into the broth, then ladling the soup into bowls.

Recipe, cover photo and soup photo courtesy Canal House Cooks Every Day by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer/Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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