Crema di Zucca

Autumn in Tuscany kosher style - Chef Laura's Frankel's famous soup recipe.

Crema di Zucca
Autumn in Tuscany looks a lot like the neighborhood pumpkin patch I remember visiting when I was a kid. Pumpkins of shapes, sizes and colors are piled high. This versatile vegetable stores well for winter, is easily canned and is frequently featured in savory dishes. This luxuriously textured soup is a perfect example of cucina povera, which is the practice of using what is readily available and seasonal. The fragrant woodsy Porcini mushrooms can be a little expensive-but their flavor and fragrance make them worthwhile ingredient. Look for porcini pieces instead of the whole mushroom. It will be much cheaper.
8 servings

-Extra Virgin olive oil
-7 cups plus 1-cup vegetable stock (See recipe, page)
-1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
-1 7 pound pumpkin, about 5 cups peeled and diced pumpkin (look for Sugar Pumpkin) or 3 cups canned pumpkin puree
-6 Cipollini onions, peeled and cut in quarters, or shallots
-1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
-1 medium head Savoy cabbage, very thinly sliced
-Salt and pepper
1.    Place the one cup of vegetable stock in a small saucepan with the dried porcini mushrooms. Bring to simmer. Turn off the heat and set aside.
2.    Brown the diced pumpkin if using in batches in a large sauté pan lightly coated with olive oil. Be sure to season each batch with salt and pepper. Transfer the pumpkin to a stock pot.
3.    Brown the cipollini onions in the same pan adding more olive oil if necessary until they are completely browned. Transfer the onions to the stock pot.
4.    Add the stock, porcini mushrooms, soaking liquid and nutmeg to the stock pot. Cover and cook on low heat until the pumpkin is very soft. Puree the pumpkin in batches or with an immersion blender adding more liquid if necessary.
5.     Add the cabbage and simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Garnish with extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese if serving dairy, shredded chicken if serving meat and toasted pumpkin seeds.