from the Greens cookbook (1987) written by the chefs of the same-named restaurant in California to which I have never been. So sad.
found the most beautiful Cinderella pumpkin at the Cortelyou Farmer’s market. It would have made a wonderful carriage, green like patina on copper, frosty white in patches. Not being a fairy godmother, I made a soup instead. It was a hefty pumpkin, and I used half, approximately ¾ pound or 4-5 cups when cut in chunks.
halving a pumpkin and skinning it is not for the faint of heart—a serious knife should be employed for the purpose. If you don’t yet have a beloved blade then ask a friend with kitchen wits and witchery (and a bit of cash flow) to get you a good Chef’s knife for your birthday. A fine knife will make you more eager to cut up veggies and entices your foodie friends to cook in your kitchen. Back to the pumpkin: plunge your knife tip into the skin near the stem, the bottom is usually the flattest part of the thing and should sit steadily on your cutting board but having a friend help you steady it is not a bad idea, and carefully bear down along the whole blade, towards the bottom of the pumpkin. Pull out the blade and start again as often as you need. Bit by bit is better than a dramatic cleaving and trip to the emergency room. Repeat on the other side.
scoop the seeds and goop from the pumpkin halves. if you want, reserve some of the seeds for toasted pumpkin seeds, and pile up at least some of the seeds and all of the pulp to use for the stock. slice of the pumpkin skins and set aside for stock as well. cut the pumpkin into slices about an inch wide then across to make large chunks.
wash one medium or two small leeks. Slice off the greens and set aside. Slice down the center of the leeks and across into thin half moon strips. Smash and peel two or three cloves of garlic. Scrub and chop a few carrots or parsnips (parsnips are really nice) and several ribs of celery.
in a large pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. add the garlic and leek greens and stir to coat and cook a few moments. stir in the celery. add in the pumpkin pulp and seeds and a few stalks of parsley. Salt and pepper the whole lot. Pour in about six cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool a bit before draining, squeezing the rich broth from the veggies by pressing them in a colander over a bowl or pot.
in a soup pot, heat a few slugs of olive oil. add the leeks and stir, cooking over a medium flame until they begin to soften. toss in the pumpkin and carrots, stirring to coat. Cook for about 9 minutes, stirring occasionally or often depending on how wide or narrow your pot is. salt and pepper (white pepper if you have it) and stir in a handful of sage and/or thyme. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for about half an hour (sometimes longer) until the pumpkin begins to fall apart. Stir it every once and awhile.
add a few cups of cooked white beans* and a cup or two of the bean cooking liquid and stir. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the pumpkin is an orange velvet background to the beans.
top with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon or swirl in a spoonful of plain yoghurt, crème fraiche or sour cream. Serve with piles of warm, excellent bread.
* to make the beans: pick through two cups of dried small white beans, like navy beans, and remove any bad beans or junk. bring a pot of water to a boil, about three time the amount of beans. turn off the heat and add the beans and let sit for an hour. rinse the soaked beans in cold water, combine with fresh water in the pot, add in stalks of fresh or dried sage and thyme and bring to a boil. cook for about an hour or al dente. drain, saving some of the cooking liquid.