Equally delicious reader variations....

Linda Kerby of Leawood, Kansas, suggests an American version that uses canned or roasted pumpkin, sour cream and cream cheese...with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Stephanie Sellars of Reseda, California, likes using any winter squash...suggests cream instead of cheese and garlic/onion in lieu of lemon...and adds that chopped red peppers, chives, or toasted sesame seeds are excellent garnishes.

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French Pumpkin Soup

(Soupe au Potiron)

This beautifully colored soup is compliments of Mme. Marie-Josie Diacre, my professor in Tours, France, during the summer of '99. She dashed the recipe off from memory on my last day of class (see below)--along with its summer squash cousin, Soupe á la courgette. She was a wonderful teacher--and an enthusiastic cook for her husband, 3 sons, and 5 grandchildren. Many thanks to her, even if I was a blockheaded student. Serve hot to 4 people as a light and creamy first course. It is also quite wonderful served cold.

Garnish: minced parsley

Put the cubed pumpkin, salt, and pepper in a saucepan and just cover with water or stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer til the pumpkin is just tender. Purée in a blender, solids first, then pop in the cheese wedges and process til they are melted into the soup. Right before serving, stir in the lemon juice.

Pour into bowls, top each with a sprinkle of minced parsley, and serve immediately.

SOUPE AU POTIRON par Mme. Diacre

Couper potiron en morceaux. Mettre dans une marmite avec un feu d'eau (juste à la hauteur des morceaux de potiron). Sel et poivre. Aprés cuisson, mixer avec 2 vache qui rit.