We built a house last year (as you well know). It was all the things people tell you it will be; fun, creative, exciting, challenging, grey-hair inducing and an absolute dream come true. We always wanted to live in the country and in addition to the chaos our three kids create running around we’ve added dogs, chickens and even a couple sheep to our ‘farm.’ It is lovely, loud and so fun.
As we planned for our house, the kitchen table took center stage. I wanted a BIG table that would fit the five of us from day to day, as well as any number of family or friends who would find themselves at our home. I wanted that table to be the heartbeat of our home and at the center of all our activity.
My husband Aaron, always up for a do-it-yourself project, set about building our dream table. He used reclaimed barn wood and a friend welded a metal base. Over 9 feet long with two matching benches, the table easily sits 12 but we’ve crowded almost 20 around it a time or two. Aaron spent countless hours working on that table, standing in the cold garage most nights; sanding, staining and lacquering the table. Halfway through the table project he had an accident with another do-it-yourself project for our house and sustained a serious injury on his left hand. To watch him finish the table, one-handed, still makes me smile every time we sit down to eat.
During this busy holiday season, I love to take any opportunity I can to gather my people around the table. Whether it’s a quick weeknight dinner between basketball practices or a big dinner party with friends the goal is the same: serve up something warm and comforting.
This pumpkin soup is a favorite and one I’ve made time and time again. I lightened it up a little from the original recipe as I’ve tweaked and made it my own. I hope you’ll do the same in your own kitchen. The soup is the perfect combination of sweet and savory, creamy with a touch of heat, hearty but light. A loaf of warm bread and a glass of wine are all you need to complete the meal.
Chipotle Pumpkin Soup with Chicken and Barley
*recipe adapted from the blog, Life in Grace
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 carrots, washed and diced
- 3 stalks celery, washed and diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 14oz. can pure pumpkin puree
- 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed (I use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper in adobo, seeds removed and diced finely (very spicy, if you don’t like heat in your food, start with ½ teaspoon).
- 1 cup barley
- 2 boxes organic low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- ¾ cup to 1 cup low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrots and celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery begin to soften. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Salt and pepper the vegetables mixture. Add the chicken stock, pumpkin puree, chicken and chipotle pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the barley, honey and spices (salt and pepper the soup again) and cook for 30 minutes or until the barley is plump and tender. Turn the heat off and allow the soup to cool. When soup has cooled slightly, stir in sour cream. (This is important, if you stir in the sour cream before the soup has cooled down, it will curdle. The soup will taste fine but it won’t look nearly as appetizing.)
To serve, warm the soup back up on the stove. Ladle into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
*Originally printed in the Yakima Magazine. More Kitchen Captivated recipes here.