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      RECIPE TITLE "Creamy Curried Pumpkin Soup and Fruit & Nut Whole Wheat Beer Bread"
    recipe by Paula Deen, author of Christmas with Paula Deen

    yieldsserves 4 to 6 time---difficultymoderate

    Hey y'all! It's autumn again, and this cool weather gets me craving soup. Here's one of my favorites--a creamy pumpkin soup that's as at home at a fancy dinner party as it is served for supper for Michael and me in front of the fire. I like Madras curry powder for its mellow flavor, but you should use your favorite variety. If you like a milder flavor, use the least amount of curry powder and cayenne, but I prefer mine on the spicy side (don't tell me you're surprised!). If you want to make the soup a little heartier, try adding some chopped or shredded ham to your bowl--I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

    Like all soups, I like this best the day after it's made; it'll keep for 2 days, tightly covered in the refrigerator. I often keep some in the freezer for a quick meal or unexpected guests; I don't add the half-and-half until I reheat the soup.

    I just love bread and soup for a light lunch or supper; this fruit and nut beer bread is a perfect complement to the sweet heat of the pumpkin soup. It goes nicely with a chunk of cheese--a nice sharp cheddar would be my choice--and buttered and toasted it makes a perfectly wonderful breakfast or snack. --Paula Deen


    1/4 cup butter or oil (you know which one I use!)
    1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 bay leaf
    1-2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
    1/4 teaspoon coriander
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    2 teaspoons brown sugar
    1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
    3 cups chicken stock or water
    1 cup half-and-half
    Sour cream, for garnish
    Toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), for garnish


    In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaf, and cook until the onion is golden, about 5-10 minutes.

    Add the curry powder, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne or hot sauce, thyme, salt, and white pepper, and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices; you may have to lower the heat a bit.

    Add the brown sugar and pumpkin and stir to combine; cook another minute or two.

    Add the stock or water, and stir well to combine. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, uncovered.

    Turn off the heat.

    You can puree the soup with an immersion blender in the pot, or transfer it in batches and puree it in a blender or food processor.

    Return the soup to the pot, add the half and half and stir well to combine.

    Serve warm or reheat gently over medium heat--do not boil!

    Serve garnished with dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.

    Fruit & Nut Whole Wheat Beer Bread
    (Makes 1 loaf, 10-12 slices)

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup sugar
    3 tablespoons melted butter or oil
    12 ounces beer (light or dark, your choice)
    1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    Preheat the oven to 350˚. Spray a 9 by 5 inch bread pan with cooking spray.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the melted butter or oil and the beer. Stir gently just until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and no streaks remain. Quickly mix in the dried apricots and walnuts and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

    Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean and the top springs back when pressed lightly. The loaf should be golden.

    Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it onto a rack and allow to cool completely, right side up, before slicing.

    Store in an airtight plastic bag.

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