Saturday, November 04, 2006

How do you know it's fall? Sausage soup and pumpkin ice cream

Yesterday, Chris announced that he wanted to go to Lincoln Square to buy sausages today. Lincoln Square is an older but charming Chicago neighborhood about fifteen minutes from our house. It has an obvious German influence. Every year -- like many towns -- they have an Octoberfest with good German sausages and beer. The "square" is like any small-town downtown, with plenty of small shops and tree lined parking. They also have metered lots, which is great because you don't have to pay $20 to park for half-an-hour. We've eaten at some interesting, genuine biergartens, but today we had Thai food. Sorry.

In any event, the real purpose of our trip today was to visit Han's Delicatessen Meyer, Chris's favorite German grocery. While Chris was taking the MPRE this morning, I studied our numerous and varied cook books for a sausage-related recipe. I settled on Country Style Cream of Leek Soup from Splendid Fare: The Albert Stockli Cookbook. My dad picked up the book -- which was published in 1970 -- for Chris at a book consignment sale. According to the book jacket, Stockli "made New York's Four Seasons restaurant celebrated around the world." I don't know about that, but I do know that his recipes are influenced by his European training and, particularly, his Swiss heritage. Hence, Country Style Cream of Leek Soup, which is simmering as I type (with a few of my slight modifications):

Chop and saute four slices of thick bacon for 5-10 minutes. Remove some bacon for garnish later. Roughly chop and add to the saute: three leeks, half an onion, three cloves garlic. Add a bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, basil), salt and pepper (light on the salt). Add four cups of chicken stock or canned chicken broth (I am using canned broth because Chris has been slack on making stock lately.) and bring to a simmer.

In a cast iron pan, brown several sausages, such as smoked farmer sausages, bauernwurst, cervelat, Kielbasa, pig's knuckles, or small pork link sausages. We're using two each of thuringer and nuernberger sausages. Add the sausages (whole) to the simmering stock. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the leeks are soft and well cooked. (I haven't gotten past this point in cooking, but I'm sure Chris will blog about the finished product later.) Remove the sausage, pour the soup into a blender (or, if you're smart enough to have one, use an emersion blender. And, I strongly recommend buying one. They're so easy to use and clean.) Puree the soup until smooth. Return to stove and stir in one cup of cream. Yum!! Heat, but do not boil. Slice the sausage and return it to the soup. Serve sprinkled with chopped chives and the reserved bacon.

For dessert, we're having pumpkin ice cream. I know it sounds kind of strange, and I was skeptical at first, but the unfrozen custard (which is cooling in the fridge) is great. I can't wait to freeze it:

Halve two small pie pumpkins (not the same as carving pumpkins), remove seeds, and roast until soft or microwave in a dish with about half an inch of water for ten minutes. Scoop pulp into a bowl and add 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract (I recommend buying the real stuff, it makes a huge difference). If you don't want to cook the pumpkin you can also buy canned unsweetened pumpkin puree. Refridgerate the puree for a couple of hours.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups of cream and 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the stove, let warm on medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring often. Whisk five egg yolks, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger), until the sugar begins to dissolve. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture in to the eggs, whisking, to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture in to the warm cream and simmer, stirring, for about five minutes or until the custard coats a spoon. Cool over an ice bath, then whip the pumpkin puree into the mixture. Refridgerate for three to twenty-four hours (longer results in better texture), then freeze according to the ice cream manufacturer directions.

So, we're having Country Style Cream of Leek Soup for dinner, and homemade pumpkin ice cream for dessert. This is what I call a real fall meal! I can't wait!


Christopher said...

Stephanie's soup turned out to be absolutely delicious, and I am all the more certain of this opinion after having consumed another bowl of it for lunch today. We drank a lovely bottle of Champagne with it, but unfortunately I have thrown away the bottle. The fizz and acidity provided a perfect foil for the creamy porkiness of the soup.

Although Stephanie is ambivalent about my opinion, I also believe that her pumpkin ice cream may be the best she has ever produced. The texture, flavor, and sweetness were all perfect. Fall indeed!

Judy said...

OMGosh I love pumpkin anything!

We have an authentic gelato shop that opened near us and their pumpkin gelato was to die for!