Pumpkin Soup with Smoked Paprika

1 4-5 pound cooking pumpkin* to yield 6 cups roasted pumpkin OR 3 (15 ounce) cans of pumpkin puree
4 Tbsp butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped, about 2 cups
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 large tart green apple (Granny Smith) peeled, cored, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 sprig fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make pumpkin pur?e, cut a sugar or Kabocha pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds* and stringy stuff (an ice cream scoop works well for this purpose), lie face down on a foil or Silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 350?F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don’t use for future use.

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add smoked paprika, cayenne, and cumin and stir for a minute more.

Add chopped apple and pumpkin pur?e. Add broth, water. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through.

Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender or a food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. If you want extra smooth soup, pass the pur?e through a food mill, after it’s been through the blender. Return the soup to the saucepan.

With soup on low heat, slowly add the milk and cream, stirring to incorporate. Add salt to taste. Adjust other seasonings to taste.

Can make a day ahead.

Serves 8.