We are in the midst of a serious fake out here on the West Coast. After a two week long heat wave we were plunged back into Winter, with below freezing nights in our valley and very cool days. Plum trees have already burst into flower and our peach tree is unfurling as well, and while who can deny their beauty, I hope this doesn't spell disaster for the fruit farmers. Farmer's market has begun to turn green, with asparagus, tiny artichokes and green garlic. But the squash are still hanging on and have yet to loosen their grips on me.
I have always wanted to serve soup inside a massive pumpkin, and the untouchable Muscade de Provence was more than up to the job. I used a variation on a recipe from a Canal House cookbook, which called for a super rich stock made from chicken wings and ham hock. You can see all the makings of the stock above. I simmered this baby for almost five hours, making an incredibly deep stock with loads of flavor. Making the stock a day in advance helps give the stock time to cool and let the fat separate to the top, where you can easily skim it off.
Next came cleaning the squash (and busting out the power tools to cut a hole in the top) and rubbing the inside with butter, garlic, smoked paprika and diced rind of preserved lemons. After filling it up halfway with stock this baby roasted for another few hours, until it was dangerously close to bursting.
I was not super happy with the finished result from the recipe when I pulled it out. I found the lemon overwhelming and the bits floating in the stock distracting. I strained the whole thing, discarded most of the lemon peel, and then buzzed it with an immersion blender. Nailed it! The bit of body gained from doing that made the stock infinitely better, and helped to emulsify some of the fat as well.
Overall, I would make a similar recipe again but vary it quite a bit. I considered scraping out some of the pumpkin flesh and pureeing that along with the stock. I also thought about how amazing it would be with cheese (duh)! French onion soup style. The presentation was crazy impressive, but stay tuned next season for another iteration. Now I might finally be ready for asparagus!