Can you see the famous Unisphere, a leftover relic from the 1964 Worlds Fair, hidden in the trees?
The holidays have left me exhausted but serene. All the scheduled events went off without a hitch. Rest and restoration is now the plan. Today we are hosting friends and family for a casual, impromptu I insist, Winter Classic 2012 party. My husband is a devoted hockey fan and our beloved NY Rangers are facing off in an outdoor showdown in Philadelphia against their rivals The Flyers.
I leaped at the opportunity to cook up what is left in my fridge after all the holiday entertaining and gift exchanges. There are still cakes, candies and various goodies lurking in every cupboard and it is time to clear the decks to welcome the new year. I am making a big pot of pumpkin chowder to warm the soul and please the palates of the hockey fans scattered in front of our TV this afternoon. The soup is easy enough to make and can be prepared the day before. If you are not vegetarian, consider adding some bacon to add a little smokey flavor to the broth.
1 onion finely chopped
1 celery stalk finely chopped
1 red or green pepper finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk or heavy cream
3 cups vegetable chicken stock
2 cups pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 cup potato, cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
In a large soup pot heat the oil. Add the onion, celery, pepper and salt and pepper to taste.
On a low flame sweat the vegetables until the onions become translucent, about five minutes.
Add the butter to the pot and let it melt down over the vegetables.
Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir to make a paste of the flour with the butter and the oil. The bottom of the pan will be a bit sludgy.
Pour in the milk or the cream and bring to a simmer stirring continuously to keep the mixture smooth. As the liquid comes up to a boil it will begin to thicken.
Slowly pour in the stock as you continue to stir, mixing thoroughly. Add the potatoes and pumpkin cubes and the dried thyme and bring liquid to a simmer again.
Continue to simmer the soup uncovered for about 20 minutes until the potato and pumpkin are tender and cooked through.
Add the corn and the Cayenne pepper and simmer the chowder for five more minutes. Taste soup to adjust seasoning. Can be made a day ahead.