Warm, seasonal and tasty Pumpkin Soup
The prevalence of New World fruit and vegetables Old World cuisine in is a continual source of wonder to me.
Stop and think for a moment what Italian cooking would be like without tomatoes, Szechuan, Indian or Thai cooking without the various forms of chili peppers, and of course some much of the cooking of Northern Europe would feel empty without the ubiquitous potato. We should add to that list the pumpkin. A member of the squash family, it finds many places in the cuisine of North Africa. From the many slow cooked stews served with couscous to the wonderfully sweet and satisfying pumpkin soup. [For more pumpkin ideas check our our kugel, pie and challah]
As you try to add a bit of Jewish flair to your Thanksgiving celebration, let me urge you to chuck those poor, tired (and perhaps even huddled) matzo balls and whip a bit of this seasonal soup that was a staple of the Sephardic kitchens of Morocco, Libya and Tunisia. This soups appears in several forms in both Joan Nathan and Claudia Roden’s cookbooks and even makes an apprearance in Gourmet’s last collection of recipes published just before the magazine was shuttered.
In this recipe I added butternut squash to the mix, but feel free to experiment with what is in season and tastes good. Some recipes call for chunks of meat- if you go that route, use something tough and fatty that will braise in the soup. Beef chuck, or veal shoulder are both great choices. Stay away from turkey though- except for the legs, it really doesn’t braise well and you should really save that for the entrée.
Thanksgiving Cran-Pistachio Couscous
What more can I say about couscous other than it is delicious and hearty. It is available in both large and small grains; even though both are available here in Israel, in the US “Israeli Couscous” refers to dishes using the large variety. This starchy dish is so versatile it’s a good idea to always have a pack or two stored away in the cabinet. I like the small grains as a side under vegetables but prefer the larger kind as there’s more potential to spice it up and add really whatever you like to it.
Usually my Thanksgiving has a pretty Israeli flair to it even when I’m at home. This year I was able to throw together a last minute dinner for my favorite holiday of the year and took the opportunity to run with the Israeli theme. So one of my side dishes was this cranberry pistachio couscous and added subtle autumn harvesty spicing.
for the recipe….
Pumpkin Kugel for Thanksgiving
How does one combine traditional Thanksgiving flavors with a Jewish food flare? Pumpkin Kugel.
I was lucky enough to cook this week with my brother and mom, and even more lucky to use all of my parent’s fancy cooking accessories and appliances: a souffle dish, egg white folder spatula, super high-tech egg beater and All-Clad pans. Cooking has instantly become SO much more fun… and pretty. While kugel is generally a dish served during the High Holidays and Passover, it has endless potential in flavor combinations that can make it appropriate for any time of year. Example: Thanksgiving
As we brainstormed the ingredients to include in a pumpkin kugel, my mom resurrected my bubbe’s trusty cookbook: The Complete American-Jewish Cookbook by the Homemakers Research Institute. It’s clearly really old. The recipe following is a riff on their egg souffle.