Vito and I discovered this simple yet divine dish for the first time in Nice, France, in a tiny restaurant a bit out of the old city center. This was a place of about 12 tables that served small dishes and the courses continued coming out until you said stop. There were no menus as the chef in the kitchen demanded your complete surrender. Bring it on- we said! This soup was the first dish to come out and we knew we were in for an evening of indulgence.
If you have been to Nice then you’re familiar with the delicious sunsets, the sea and the atmospheric, almost vintage glamour. I had a chance to go there a few years ago for a work. Being there in November I can’t say I had Nice all to myself, but I also didn’t have to fight my way through crowds of tourists, especially the fashionista kind who will trample you without pausing to scrape you off their stilettos. (I know how they behave, I’m one of them). This trip was exciting for a number of reasons, 1) it was my first time in Nice and I was extending my stay for the weekend to explore and 2) Vito would be joining me! This of course called for a sexy dinner a deux. You know the one you sit down to after a long day of walking around exploring the city, holding hands and taking cute pictures of each other. Then, magically, right as you get hungry you take a turn into a seemingly empty alley and voila’ you stumble upon a perfectly inviting little restaurant with delicious scents wafting through the open doors. Only to have your day culminate in such perfection takes careful planning.
When it comes to spontaneous romance in a lovely destination, I’ve got it broken down to a science! What? You thought romance just kinda happened on its own!? Oh no, no, you can’t leave important things like romantic dinners to chance!
Following a tip from a local, Vito and I strolled into the perfect little place precisely timed to relieve the aching feet and rumbling bellies. Thankfully we had a reservation as the tiny restaurant filled up within 15 minutes or our arrival. We sat at a tiny table for two lit with a candle next to an exposed brick wall. Our view of the open kitchen let us peek at the busy happenings there. Chalkboard menu stated only the sequence of the dishes to expect. It looked something like: soup, vegetable, fish, meat, vegetable, fish, meat. If you violently opposed one of these categories, you could request a skip. That was all the chef cared to reveal. And so our evening began with “soup”, only the most aromatic, tastiest of soups garnished simply with crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds.
• • •
Every time I make this soup, it transports Vito and I back to that candle lit dinner in Nice. Now if only I had a chalkboard menu board and a few serious looking French men in my kitchen cooking up seven more courses…
Nicoise Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup (serves 6)
• 1 small-medium pumpkin
• 6 carrots (variation: 1 sweet potato as pictured)
• 1 medium onion
• Chicken stock (about 6 cups)
• 1 bay leaf
• ½ glass of orange juice (best if fresh squeezed)
• ½ teaspoon of paprika
• ½ teaspoon of ginger
• Salt and pepper to taste
• pinch of black and chili peppers
• ½ teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
• ½ teaspoon of allspice (optional)
• Toasted pumpkin seeds
Pissaladière or Nicoise Pizza:
(My simple interpretation of it will go nicely with the soup)
• 6 slices of a baguette (or your favorite bread)
• 2 white onions
• 2 tomatoes
• Anchovies (optional)
Prep/cook – Pumpkin Soup
Chop up the onion and saute’ it in 2 tsps of olive oil until translucent. Add chopped peeled chopped carrots and saute’ for another minute.
Chop pumpkin into 1 inch cubes (it’s not necessary to peel it) then immediately add 1 cup of chicken stock and a laurier leaf. Stir then cover the pot for a few minutes to let everything get all steamy – This seems to be a big bonding moment for the main ingredients. At first they’re thinking only of themselves and their importance in the recipe, but then they realize that it’s more productive and fun to play nice together in the delicious steam and become a team.
Add all the spices and the rest of the chicken stock, cover leaving a crack and cook until pumpkin is soft when you pierce it with a fork, about 15 minutes.
When the soup is ready take out the vegetables and puree them in a food processor or with a staff mixer. Last but not least add the orange juice and adjust spices to taste.
Prep/cook – Pissaladière (Nicoise Pizza)
Cut peeled onion in half and then into rings and saute’ them in a bit of olive oil and butter.
Add a little splash of white wine or a bit of water to make sure onions don’t burn and come out soft. Warm up a few slices of tomato right in the pan by pushing the onions to the side. Assemble your sandwich by heaping the onions on top of your toasted bread, then topping it with a slice of tomato and if you love anchovies throw few of them right on.
Serve the soup garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and a hot Pissaladière style mini-sandwiches. Pair it with a nice Syrah and don’t forget to french kiss your partner before and after the meal!
• • • LESSONS LEARNED • • •
Trust the chef, especially when you're
not allowed into the kitchen.
Love it? Share it! - We are dedicated to sharing stories that spark ideas and are meaningful to you. The best way to let us know is by posting a comment, like below or pin it on Pinterest! ~ For More ways Live Like You're Traveling follow us on Feedly, Bloglovin, Pinterest, or Facebook.