Looks weird, hard to pronounce, but tastes awesome!

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You can’t help but look at a Galeux d’Eysines pumpkin. Pronounced “Gal-OH deh-ZINE,” its pale orange skin ranges from speckled to covered with peanut-shaped growths. It is a novelty and looks beautiful paired with the Ghost and Cinderella pumpkins that Martha Stewart has brought great popularity to, and, it turns out, this is one of the best pumpkins to eat.

A French heirloom, Galeaux d’Eysines is prized for the sweetness and smoothness of its flesh. Unlike the stringy texture of many pumpkins, this one has a silky consistency when cooked and pureed or mashed. The “peanuts” are the result of sugars building up under the skin. The flavor is most concentrated both under the skin, and in the seed mass*, the middle of the pumpkin, which is much denser than a typical carving pumpkin.

*What the heck is the “seed mass” you are asking? When you carve a pumpkin, the seeds are connected by a stringy, sticky, goopy mass of “threads.” That is the seed mass. In the Galeaux d’Eysines, the seed mass is the much denser middle of the pumpkin, much like you would find in a butternut squash.

Simmering the seed mass with the stock enhances the pumpkin flavor. A little cream and butter enhance the smooth texture of this soup, without covering up the delicious taste of the pumpkin. Porcini mushrooms add earthy depth. Chicken stock could certainly replace the need for Porcinis, but why would you ever replace Porcinis? At home, we drizzled the soup with toasted pumpkin seed oil and truffle oil, rich and decadent – perfect for a special occasion – like tonight’s dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pumpkin, quartered, peeled and seeded. Remove the seeds and retain the seed mass.
  • 8-12 cups stock. You can use this quick vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 2-3 oz dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Sherry vinegar
  • 1-2 tbs butter
  • About 1/8 tsp each fresh-grated nutmeg, white pepper, salt
Directions:
  • Place the pumpkin seed mass and stock in a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. If you are making your stock from scratch, you can cook the seed mass with your other ingredients.
  • Chop pumpkin into 1 in. chunks.
  • Cover the dried Porcinis with 1.5 cups boiling water. Set aside for twenty minutes. Remove mushrooms, and squeeze liquid back into bowl. Chop the mushrooms finely.
  • Heat oil in 6 qt stock pot over low heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, without browning, 4-6 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  • Strain the Porcini liquid through cheesecloth or a paper towel into the pot with the onions. Cook until it is mostly evaporated, being careful not to let the onions and garlic brown.
  • Add pumpkin, stock, thyme and bay. Cook until pumpkin is soft and mashable 20-30 minutes. The pumpkin is ready when the top of a sharp knife slides through it like a room temperature pat of butter.
  • Purée pumpkin with a food mill, immersion blender or food processor, and return to pan. Simmer for 5 minutes longer.
  • Off heat, stir in cream and season to taste with  vinegar, butter and spices.
*How do you peel a pumpkin? Chop it in half, and scoop out the seed mass from the center. Place the pumpkin cut side down and “shave” off the skin with a chefs knife, cutting down the sides, away from you. 
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