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Today’s Kitchen: Pumpkin Soup

Recipes for pumpkin soup, pumpkin gnocchi and pumpkin cheesecake.
/ Source: msnbc.com

Not just your ordinary jack-o-lanterns, chef Nick Stellino’s pumpkins can turn into delicious holiday meals. Stellino, the host of public television’s “Cucina Amore,” serves up pumpkin soup, pumpkin gnocchi, and pumpkin cheesecake.

Recipes from “Nick Stellino’s Glorious

Italian Cooking”

Pumpkin Soup with Sausages

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound (450 g.) sweet Italian sausages,

cut into 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) pieces

4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced

1 red onion, chopped

8 ounces (225 g.) button mushrooms quartered

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 cup dry Marsala wine

4 cups Chicken stock

2 cups canned pumpkin

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup uncooked small small shell pasta or broken

spaghetti or fettuccine

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

cheese (optional)

Heat the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan on high heat. Add the sausage and brown for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a 3-quart saucepan and set aside. Add the garlic, onion, mushrooms, sage, celery and thyme to the same sauté pan and cook on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Marsala wine and cook 2 more minutes.

Pour the contents of the sauté pan into the saucepan with the cooked sausage. Add the chicken stock, pumpkin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Add the pasta, increase the heat to a soft boil and cook, stirring often to make sure the pasta is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, for 5 more minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 3 minutes longer. This recipe will produce a very thick soup. If you prefer it thinner, just add more stock.

Serve in deep pasta bowls with the grated cheese, if you wish.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage

Serves 6 to 8

Pumpkin Gnocchi:

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (optional)

» teaspoon nutmeg

Sage Sauce:

6 tablespoons butter

4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage

» teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

cheese

For the Pumpkin Gnocchi:

Mix the pumpkin, 1 ½ cups of the flour, the cheese, sage and nutmeg in a large bowl with a spatula or wooden spoon. Spread the remaining » cup of flour on a flat work surface and knead the dough, using a pressing and folding motion, until well mixed, as if you were making bread. The dough should not be kneaded too long. The longer the dough is kneaded the more flour it will absorb, resulting in heavier gnocchi. Move quickly and lightly, as the dough will stick to your hands if you press too hard.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll them on the floured surface to form a ¾-inch (2-cm) thick rope. With a sharp knife, cut the dough ropes into ½-inch (1.5-cm) pieces.

Place the finished gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them. If you are preparing the gnocchi to be served at a later date, they can be frozen. Simply place the baking sheet of gnocchi in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to freezer bags for up to 1 month. (Follow the same steps for cooking as you would if they were unfrozen.)

To cook the gnocchi, drop them into a large pot (the wider the pot the better) of boiling water. Stir them gently with a spoon, as they will initially fall to the bottom of the pan and may stick. After the gnocchi float to the top of the water, cook them for 2 minutes longer and then remove to a large bowl filled with warm water. Cook all the gnocchi before beginning the sauce.

For the Sage sauce:

Place all the sauce ingredients except the cheese in a large (12-inch) (30-cm), nonstick sauté pan set on medium-low heat. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the gnocchi to the sauce in the pan, using a slotted spoon to lift them from the bowl of warm water. Toss the gnocchi in the sauce over medium heat for 3 minutes.

Spoon the gnocchi into serving dishes and top each with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese. Pour any sage butter remaining in the sauté pan over the gnocchi.

Cook’s Tip

All of the gnocchi sauces are equally good for tossing with your favorite pasta.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serves 8 to 10

1 recipe Walnut Pie Crust

16 ounces (450 g.) cream cheese

8 ounces (225 g.) ricotta cheese

11/2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

Whipped cream (optional)

Make the walnut pie crust and pat the mixture over the bottom and 2/3’s of the way up the side of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and ricotta cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and beat well. Mix in the brown sugar , nutmeg and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared crust and bake for 11/4 hours, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool completely on a baking rack, then, refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator, place on a serving dish, remove the side ring and cut into wedges. Serve with a dollop of the whipped cream on top.

Cook’s Tip

If you would prefer not to garnish the cheesecake with whipped cream, an alternative is to drizzle 1 or 2 tablespoons of Caramel sauce over the top or garnish each slice with a whole walnut or a chocolate covered coffee bean.

Walnut Crust

Serves 8

1/3 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup ground walnuts

11/4 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Mix the sugar, walnuts, flour and salt in a large bowl. Combine the butter and almond extract and pour over the dry ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon.

Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) fluted tart pan and bake in oven for 10-12 minutes. (This particular type of crust does not require any weights during cooking.) Let cool completely before filling. You can make this crust 2 days ahead of time, if you wish. Simply cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

(All recipes copyright West 175 Enterprises, Inc., 1-800-6GARLIC. Reproduction prohibited without permission. “Nick Stellino’s Glorious Italian Cooking” is published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.)