Happy Thanksgiving from Red Rocket Farm! This Thanksgiving, we’ve got some story time from Teeter!
Many years ago my cat Samantha and I were holed up in a tiny studio apartment that was located in the rear basement of a house in Little Five Points in Atlanta. This apartment had many unique amenities such as: a street number address that ended in 1/2 (just like I’m in Harry Potter, accept that my mail never gets delivered right!), a hole behind the hot water heater that Samantha used as a portal to Narnia (aka, outdoors), and the ability to place a marble in the bedroom and have it roll through the living room and into the kitchen (I don’t think it was built un-level…I think the kitchen was sinking). This was a difficult time. I had switched schools, didn’t have a lot of friends, and constantly struggled to afford rent on my shanty. But through all of it, someone was there for me. Someone brave and smart and kind. Do you know who it was?
Did you think I was going to say Jason? Wrong! No, I didn’t have ANY friends, much less one as awesome as Jason. I did, however, have ample time to explore Hyrule, struggle through dungeons, and slice a lot of Deku Babas. Now before this sounds incredibly sad and pathetic, let me just say: yes, it was. But it was also a time of growth, and independence and all of those things you need when you’re a young adult. Plus, I had Samantha, and it’s totally healthy for 90% of your social interaction to be with a cat. Totally.
So I was playing a lot of Zelda, when a very strange thing happened in Atlanta. We got snow. A good amount of snow and ice. Not the 4 feet you see up in Minnesota, but enough to shut down schools and a few businesses and force everyone to snuggle down on their couch under a blanket. I was taking my snow vacation to play through Twilight Princess. That’s when I met this guy:
For non-Zelda players, or for those that don’t remember, that is Yeto the Yeti. He lives in a frozen castle, has a demonic Yeti wife (until Link cures her), likes to sled race, and makes very good soup. Pumpkin, reek fish, and Ordon goat cheese soup to be exact. The whole section of the game that focuses on Yeto and his soup makes you repeatedly watch Link smell and taste and eat this delicious looking soup. I couldn’t take it. It looked SO GOOD (minus the floating fish heads). So I decided, the cure for the wintery nasties outside was to make that soup. It was just a lark, but it ended up being AMAZING. Since then, I make it every year, changing the recipe almost every time I make it (mostly because I can’t remember what I did the year before). I only make it once a year, except for last year when I made it a second time to enter it in a potluck dinner party competition which I LOST which just goes to show that I should only make it once a year grumble grumble grumble…
So here it is, the recipe for Zelda pumpkin soup which is guaranteed to replenish 8 hearts or at least warm you from winter nasties. Oh, and I leave out the reek fish. If you want it to be more authentic, I’m sure a little fish sauce from your local asian supermarket might be an interesting addition, but I’ve never tried it (but this guy used halibut).
(Disclaimer: I am not a professional chef, nor do I have professional experience writing out recipes for people. This recipe could be terrible or could possibly kill you.)
Start with a big ole heavy pot. I like our big blue dutch oven from Lodge. It’s got stains, but we still love it.
A pot with a thin bottom, like a pasta pot, puts you at risk for the soup burning, and that is UNACCEPTABLE. Melt 1/2 a stick of butter in the bottom of the pot. Put in a whole bunch of minced garlic.
I used 2 cloves of elephant garlic because I hate peeling garlic, and the cloves are the size of walnuts (note: elephant garlic is not as pungent as regular garlic, but if you’re a garlic-peeling-hater like me, it’s your new best friend). I would say you want at least 7 or 8 cloves of regular sized (puny) garlic. Let the garlic get all nice and golden in the butter. I usually keep my burner at medium so that it’s hot enough to fry the garlic, but not so hot that things can get easily out of hand.
If there’s some crusty goodness at the bottom of the pan, for goodness sake scrape it up! It is deliciousness! Don’t make me send Yeto the Yeti to slap you with a reekfish.
Now it’s time to add the goat cheese. I went to Trader Joe’s for my goat cheese, since the 11oz log of it is almost twice as much at my local Kroger, but you can get goat cheese almost anywhere. I recommend getting as a big a container as possible. Here’s the 11oz log I was talking about.
The reason I want you to get a big container is…well…uh…you want to get 3 of these. Yeah…I said 3. That’s 33 ounces of goat cheese. A more confident person might be able to tell you to put 33 ounces of goat cheese in a dish without apology, but all I feel is deep, painful shame. The only thing I can say is trust me. It’s worth it. Melt the goat cheese a little at a time in with the garlic. I added a half a log, let it melt, and then kept adding another half. I did this 6 times because, in case you don’t remember, there are 3 logs of goat cheese. 33 ounces. Yup.
Now you need pretty high heat to get the goat cheese to melt, but you don’t want it to be on high for too long or it will start to burn. I pretty much turned the heat up every time I added a new ingredient, stirred until combined, and then turned the heat down to low until I had the next ingredient ready. Once all the goat cheese is in the pot and melted, you have something that looks a little like french onion dip.
It’s amazing to me that chèvre (the snooty way to say goat cheese) melts down so easily. It’s tempting to just throw some cooked macaroni in there now and be done with it. That would be a mistake, however, since goat cheese melts down to be kind of grainy. It’s not super great all melty on it’s own. Now, I like to add a second cheese to the soup. I know what you’re thinking. “Really Teeter? MORE cheese? This is getting ridiculous!” To you I say: shut up and eat your cheese.
Now then, I have tried a few different auxiliary cheeses in the past, from cheddar, which is overpowering and greasy, to swiss, which doesn’t really add anything. My favorite has been gruyere, which gives it a nutty flavor and adds some of that melty-stringy-cheesy fondue texture to the soup. The frustrating thing about gruyere is that it comes in the these tiny expensive wedges. Plus, for all I know a different fondue cheese like comte or fontina might be better suited. The world of cheese is complicated, and I get easily confused and hungry. In comes Trader Joe’s to my rescue.
A truly epic amount of pre-mixed, fondue-y cheese mixed with ingredients that I wouldn’t mind in my soup anyhow (garlic, salt, and white wine). There’s no creepy chemicals or anything, and it melts down perfectly in the microwave, ready to be mixed into the soup. If you’re like me, you might also toast up one of these.
Just to make to sure the La Fondue stuff is okay. A real chef must try things first.
(I am not a real chef, but La Fondue is DEFINITELY more than okay). If you can’t get your hands on this stuff, gruyere will do nicely, or whatever cheese you’re currently into. Havarti might be nice, or gouda to add a smokiness. I microwaved the fondue cheese, but if your cheese is not pre-melted, I recommend at least grating it so it will melt more easily.
Just adding some cheese to my cheese. Nothing to see here. Seriously, the nuttiness of the fondue cheese with the tartness of the goat cheese, followed by that distinct goaty aftertaste (sorry I called it goaty) is truly amazing. You could just stop if you wanted. Just find the closest dipping instrument (bagel, tortilla chip, spork, finger) and go to town. But no! A heartier, (slightly) healthier dish is on the way!
Next, we need to thin this out a little. We want soup, not queso dip (okay that’s not exactly true, but work with me here). First, let’s add a little milk. I used between a 1/2 cup and 1 cup of goat milk.
This carton cracks me up. “Are you sensitive?” Are you hurting? Are you feeling deep shame about the 33 ounces of goat cheese in your recipe? Goat milk is here for you. Goat milk will make it all better. Goat milk will never judge you, only nourish you and fill your body with goaty goodness. I bought goat milk because I thought it might have that gamey taste that goat cheese has. I drank a little, and it doesn’t taste that goaty. In fact, you know what it tastes like? Milk. I mean, to be fair, I had just eaten a big mouthful of wheat bagel and fondue goo, so my palate was not at the top of it’s game. I’m sure there is a subtle hint of goatiness, but not enough to make a difference. Any kind of milk will do, although I wouldn’t use skim. It might not mix well. Next I added an equal amount of chicken broth.
Now you can always add more broth later, but chances are you’ve exhausted the cheese supply from your own refrigerator, local grocery store, and most likely the surrounding counties. What I’m trying to say is, be conservative. You’re going for about the consistency of alfredo sauce. Maybe a little thinner. But seriously, I would do 1/2 a cup of the milk and a 1/2 cup of broth (by the way, veggie broth is totally fine), move on. Then, if it’s too thick once the pumpkin is added, you can thin it out.
Okay. Confession time. This soup should really be made with fresh pumpkin. There’s instructions on making pumpkin puree all over the internet. You basically clean out a pumpkin, throw it in the oven to roast, peel it, and puree it. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of really hard and messy steps. And it is, but it’s worth it. The first time I made this soup, I made it with fresh pumpkin and the pumpkin flavor was so rich and wonderful. That being said…I haven’t doen that since. Nope. BECAUSE IT’S SUPER HARD WORK. And I’m really busy. So I use this.
I can feel your judging from here. Listen, this does the job. But PLEASE make sure you get 100% pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. If you put pumpkin pie filling in 33oz of goat cheese…well…that might not be terrible…but don’t do it. At least not right now. Experiment on your own time, weirdo. This is a 29oz (what a weird amount) can of pumpkin puree and the whole darn thing goes into the pot.
Stir up and look at the beautiful swirls. So pretty!
From here, I added a little more broth because it was too thick. Then I added my spices. As far as salt goes, remember that your cheese will do a lot of the work for you, but a little salt is needed to help the pumpkin out. Something strange about this soup, it seems to get saltier as it gets older. Two days from now, when I’m reheating the last bowl, it will be way saltier than when I first whipped it up. It’s strange, but it’s expected from magic soup. I suggest you salt conservatively, and then provide salt when serving it in case someone is a salt fiend (like me and everyone in my family). As far as spices, do your own thing. I like to use black pepper, cayenne, paprika, and ground sage. The sage with the pumpkin and goat cheese is pretty awesome. Usually, I like it spicy so it feels like the soup is heating up my insides and healing my battle wounds. I toned it down this time because I’m taking this soup to my family Thanksgiving, and there’s some picky eaters. I’m also serving it with chives on top, a new addition this year. I think the chives add flavor, but mostly they make me seem fancy.
Of course, you could always serve it one of these
It’s a ceramic milk bottle from Target, and yes, I got it solely to carry around Zelda soup.
Enjoy Yeto’s superb soup, and have a happy Thanksgiving!!!