Cristeta Comerford, the executive chef at the White House, shares her top-secret recipe that'll keep you warm on a cool fall day. This soup is one of First Lady Laura Bush's all-time favorites!
  • 1 1/2 pounds pumpkin (3 cups)
  • 1 Vidalia onion , chopped
  • 1 cup carrots , peeled and diced
  • 1 cup celery , diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic , chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorn
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espelette powder or paprika
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • Pumpkin oil
  • Candied Pepitas:
    • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
    • Powdered sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • Pinch of espelette powder
    To make the soup: Preheat oven to 350°. Cut the pumpkin in half and place it, cut side down, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until it is easily pierced with a knife (about 45 minutes). Let cool. Scoop the flesh and discard the skin and seeds. Press the pumpkin flesh through a strainer. Warm the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Sweat the carrots, onion, garlic until translucent for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the dry spices and the aromatics. Add the pumpkin puree and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add entire mixture into a blender and blend. (You could also strain through a fine mesh.) Season. Put back in a pot to gently simmer. Finish with yogurt and adjust the seasonings. Serve in a warmed bowl. Garnish with candied pepitas (see recipe below) and a swirl of pumpkin oil.

    To make the candied pepitas: Toast pepitas in a preheated nonstick pan. Add enough powdered sugar to coat the pepitas. Add salt and espelette powder. Stir until sugar dissolves—pumpkin seeds will pop. Remove from heat and let cool.


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