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Melba Wilson’s Pumpkin Bisque

Ingredients

1 2½ - 3 pound pumpkin, stem removed, cut in half and seeds scooped out
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
¾ cup sliced celery
¾ cup diced carrot
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground pepper
Pinch cayenne
¼ cup white wine
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth, divided

Optional garnishes: chopped chives, toasted pumpkin seeds*, chili oil**

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil.

Place pumpkin cut-side-down on the prepared baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until the pumpkin is fork tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to cool cut side up on the baking sheet. Scoop the flesh from the pumpkin with a large kitchen spoon. Discard skin.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy bottomed large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook stirring often until the vegetables start to brown, 7 to 10 minutes.

Sprinkle cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, pepper and cayenne over the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add white wine and simmer until the wine is almost completely evaporated.

Add 6 ½ cups broth to the vegetables and spice mixture and bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and let cook until the celery is completely soft, about 5 minutes. Hold off the heat until the pumpkin is soft.

Add the roasted pumpkin to the broth mixture and return to a simmer over medium-high heat. Puree with immersion blender or in blender in two batches until smooth. Use caution when pureeing hot liquid. Serve hot and garnish with chili oil and pumpkin seeds if using.

*Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Scatter pumpkin seeds onto a sheet pan in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Bake for about 7 minutes, until light brown and crispy.

**Chili Oil Recipe
Ingredients
1 cup canola oil – or any neutral oil such as peanut oil, though yes, you CAN use Olive Oil
3 tablespoons crushed dried peppers – I used a blend of 7-Pots and scorpions
Dash of salt if desired

Instructions
Add oil, dried peppers and salt (if using) to a small pot and stir. Heat to medium-low heat and stir often for about 5 minutes.

Do not allow the oil to smoke. If it smokes, remove it from the heat to reduce the temperature.

After 5 minutes, remove from heat and cool. Pour it into a bottle or jar. You can strain it if you’d like.

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