If you want to be blown away by soup – I mean, seriously world rocked “I never knew soup could taste this good” blown away – then you must visit the New England Soup Factory outside of Boston. Their Pumpkin Soup is so incredible, I have to share the love. (For an in depth look at this hole-in-the-wall gem, read my in-depth review).
The Pumpkin White Bean Soup I
had devoured earlier this fall at The New England Soup Factory is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. Silky smooth, yet full of white beans and fresh pumpkin chunks, you can’t help but savor each spoonful.
Inspired by the soup at The New England Soup Factory, I went back to my kitchen and recreated my version. Pull up a chair and ladle yourself a bowl of this glorious, delicious Gluten-Free Pumpkin Soup with White Beans and Rubbed Sage.
Cream Sherry actually doesn’t contain cream at all. Sherry itself is a fortified wine made of white grapes, originating from Spain. Cream is a type of sweet sherry – a darker dessert wine. And it’s in this Gluten-Free Pumpkin Soup. And it’s extraordinary.
Making this soup was quite an education, and an education I want to pass on to you, friends.
How to break down a pumpkin
Thanks to Le Gourmet TV, I learned how to break down a whole pumpkin. I was a bit intimidated at first – I’m the person who buys butternut squash at the grocery store already cut and cubed – but it was surprisingly quite simple.
Starting with a whole pumpkin and ending with several cups of cut pumpkin cubes is quite empowering. (I broke down my first butternut squash yesterday – there’s nothing stopping me now). A very sharp knife helps, a dull kitchen blade will be a challenge.
First, slice off the top and bottom of the pumpkin so that it sits flat on the cutting board. Once complete, remove the outer skin of the pumpkin by following the curve of the pumpkin with your knife. If you have a good enough peeler that will do the job, by all means, use that!
After the pumpkin is peeled, slice it in half. Cut those two pieces in half so you have four pieces, total.
Remove the innards and seeds from each quarter. I did this by scraping the curve with my knife, much like I would remove cantaloupe from the rind. Scrape whatever stringy, wet areas remain with a spoon.
Now that you have pure pumpkin, cut the chunks into roughly 3/4″ cubes. Toss with olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet for roasting. This labor of love will make you appreciate each bite even more.
How to make rubbed sage
This recipe calls for Rubbed Sage. Ground Sage and Rubbed Sage are not the same thing.
Ground sage is made by grinding the whole leaves of dried sage into a powder. Rubbed sage is made by literally rubbing the dried leaves, which results in a lighter, more cotton-like texture. The flavor is less intense than ground sage, which makes it perfect for the recipe, balancing the sweetness of the Cream Sherry without overpowering it. You can buy rubbed sage at the grocery store, but if you have fresh sage available, you can easily make it yourself.
Set the oven to warm. Lay at least 25 sage leaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. The more leaves, the better, as they shrink when heated. Let the leaves sit in the warm oven for 20-30 minutes, until the leaves shrivel. Place the dried leaves in a colander set on top of a large bowl. With your fingers, rub the leaves against the holes of the colander until the leaves become paper thin and you can’t rub them any longer.
A beautiful, billowy powder forms in the bowl! Another labor of love. It’s all worth it, I swear. (And optional – if you want to buy already cut pumpkin and bottled rubbed sage at the grocery store).
This soup has a very silky texture. To achieve this texture, I recommend using freshly grated Parmesan cheese that melts right into the soup instead of the packaged, powder version, which can tend to be a bit gritty. I also added a can of white beans before blending the soup with an immersion blender to give the soup some additional creaminess without cream.
It was cold and rainy when I first had this soup at the New England Soup Factory. There’s something luxurious about enjoying silky smooth soup, the flavor of dessert wine lingering on the edges, on a crisp, fall day. It like snuggles for the soul.
I would love to hear from you. If you’re already a fan of the New England Soup Factory, what is your favorite soup? If you’re not a local, this soup brings you a bit closer to our Boston gem. Come visit us – and let me know. I’ll go with you to stock up for the home and the freezer.
- 2.5 lbs pumpkin, peeled and chopped into ¾" cubes
- 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 large Spanish onion, diced
- 5 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 10 cups vegetable broth
- ½ tsp rubbed sage
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup cream sherry
- 2 cans (15.5 oz) cooked cannellini beans, rinsed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- grated Parmesan, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Place 3 cups of the pumpkin cubes on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan (set the remaining pumpkin cubes aside). Toss in the olive oil until well coated. Position on the oven's middle rack and roast for approximately 25 minutes, or until cubes are soft and can be pierced with a fork.
- Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and add the onions, garlic, celery, carrots. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining uncooked pumpkin cubes and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The vegetables should be softened at this point, but still firm.
- Add the vegetable broth, sage, and nutmeg, stirring well to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cover.
- Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and can be pierced with a fork.
- Remove the stockpot from heat. Stir in the brown sugar, cream sherry, grated Parmesan cheese, and rinsed beans from one of the 15.5-ounce cans. With a hand blender, purée the soup in the pot until silky smooth. Or, working in batches, purée in a regular blender.
- Stir in the remaining beans and roasted pumpkin cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese.
UPDATE: Since publishing this blog post, the Brookline location of The New England Soup Factory has closed. For soup divine, check out the Newton location.