Pumpkin soup – trick or treat?

Lately, few friends asked me for a good pumpkin soup recipe. I tried various pumpkin soup recipes before, but I was never thrilled about the result. Usually I love coconut, but not that much in my pumpkin soup, so that version was out of the picture. I tried some more savoury versions, but I was never fully happy with the result.
This was until I tried this version of Alain Ducasse. Guess when you gathered so many Michelin stars you ought to know how to make a good pumpkin soup…. and I can testify here that he does. The addition of leek gives the soup extra body and sweetness, while the rest of the ingredients make it simply delicious.The recipe is pretty simple, as it includes fresh, good quality ingredients and goes perfectly with this time of the year – Halloween.

cream of pumpkin soup

from Ducasse made simple by Sophie

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced,

1 leek (white part only), thinly slices,

1 pound sugar pumpkin, peeled and cut into small chunks (I had one small pumpkin and I used it all)

6 cups chicken broth

3/4 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and leek, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they soften and begin to look translucent. Stir in the pumpkin and a dash of salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, add the ricotta cheese, and stir to combine – I skipped this step, I just added the ricotta before serving

Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste. While the soup is cooking, heat a medium skillet over high heat. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream with a pinch of salt until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Ladle the pumpkin soup into warmed bowls and garnish each serving with the diced bacon – again skipped this, didn”t feel like having any meat component in my soup

Add a generous spoonful of whipped cream in the center of each bowl, some chopped chives, a dash of chilli pepper and serve immediately.

Cauliflower soup – getting ready for the cold days

At the market, last weekend, I was looking for some veggies to make some soup. In the summer, I like the soups where you can still detect the original ingredients, the types of soups that we have in South-Eastern Europe, however autumn time is a different story. Then, I really love a hearty, creamy, rich soup. 

And this time the cauliflower draw my attention…together with some celeriac since was laying all alone next to the cauliflower. Since both are very earthy, thought they will marry perfectly in a soup. To bring in some extra flavour, I just added some watercress and crispy bacon on top.

cauliflower and celeriac soup with crispy bacon and watercress

2 tablespoons olive oil

one large onion or 2 shallots

3 garlic cloves

thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg

3 cups vegetable broth

1 head of cauliflower

1/2 celeriac root


few slices of bacon


Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened. Add chopped garlic and the thyme, cook until the garlic softens, add the cauliflower florets and the cubed celeriac. Sautee them and the add the broth, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover the pot and bring to
a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer, keep covered, and let cook until the cauliflower and the celeriac are tender. 

Puree with an immersion blender. Serve warm topped with crispy bacon, watercress or shredded cheese.

Apple pie – the flavours of fall

Fall is back in town, amazingly it has a nicer face than the summer had this year in the northern part of Europe. The days are shorter, but the sun is shinning a bit more than it did it for the past months. Well, I am not trying to write a weather report, but just to get into an autumn atmosphere. But despite its pitfalls, the autumn is a great season in terms of food and of flavour richness. It is a bit like an old wise person – saw it all and now is ready to share the knowledge. The fall produce is usually a bit more heavy, it takes a bit longer to understand its “wise-ness”, just think about pumpkins, apples, pears, quince, figs, beetroot. You don’t get that jumping for joy taste, but a bit more down to earth aromas and flavours.

And to celebrate the beginning of fall, I made some apple pie – thus filling the house with rich cinnamon, vanilla and fresh pastry flavours .

apple pie

serves 4


350 grams flour

225 cold butter

30 grams sugar

60 ml ice water

1 pinch of salt, vanilla

Cut the butter in small cubes. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla.   Add the butter and water and mix until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough, otherwise the pastry will become hard, rather than nice and crispy. Cover it in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Apple filling

5 apples

4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

30 grams butter

2 tablespoons cognac

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 vanilla beans

Peel the apples and cut them in cubes. Melt the butter over low heat, in a medium saucepan. Add the apples, the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla. Cook until the sugar is melted, for about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch and mix well. When the apples are cooked (do not overcook), sprinkle the cognac over the apples and flambe it. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

To assemble the pies, roll out the pastry (3 mm thick) and fit it in tart tins. Fill up the tarts with the apple mixture and seal them with another sheath of rolled out dough, closing the edgesproperly. Brush the top of the tarts with egg wash.

Bake the pies in a preheated oven at 180C for 40 minutes or until they become golden and the pastry is cooked through. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

placinta de mere

  • 350 grame faina
  • 225 grame unt rece
  • 30 grame zahar
  • 60 ml apa rece
  • un praf sare
  • vanilie

Umplutura de mere

  • 5 mere
  • 4 linguri zahar
  • jumatate lingurita scortisoara
  • 30 grame unt
  • 2 linguri cognac
  • 1 lingura amidon
  • vanilie

Se taie untul in cuburi mici. Intr-un vas se combina faina, sarea, zaharul si vanilia. Se adauda untul si se amesteca pana cand untul se amesteca relativ omogen cu faina. se adauga apa rece, astfel incat aluatul sa devina compact si relativ omogen. Nu framantati aluatul foarte mult, astfel baza tartei devine ff tare. Acoperiti cu folie de plastic si lasati aluatul sa se odihneasca la frigider o ora.

Curatati merele si taiati-le in cubulete. Topiti untul pe foc mic, intr-o tigaie de marime medie.Adaugati merele, zaharul, scortisoara si vanilia. Gatiti pana cand zaharul se topeste, apoi adaugati amidonul. Adaugati cognacul peste mere si flambati-l pana alcoolul se dizolva. Lasati merele sa se raceasca.

Asamblati prin a intinde aluatul pana ajunge la o grosime de 3 mm. Se aseaza in formele de tarta, se umple tarta cu umplutura de mere. Deasupra se aseaza o foaie de aluat , ca un capac.

Coaceti la 180 de grade pentru 30 de minute sau pana cand tarta capata o culoare aramie.