In most areas of the country, fall is the introduction to the cold days that lay ahead. The smell of autumn, the colored leaves and the cool snap in the air is a reminder that winter is around the corner. That was true when I was a child growing up in Michigan. Now that I live in Arizona, things are a bit different. Autumn does not “fall” upon us; we have to bring it on!
One of the ways I bring autumn to our house is to get a jump start on Halloween and decorate from top to bottom. I make my Arizona home look like a picture from my childhood. You will find dried flowers, pumpkins, and faux colored leaves adorning every corner of my house. To tie it all together and make the decor more convincing, the smell of pumpkin and spice is always in the air.
One of my favorite fall delights has always been making pumpkin soup. It is rich and creamy with the perfect amount of savory spices, and full of memories of cool crisp autumn days. I like to make this for my kids before they start their annual ‘trick-or-treating “adventure through the neighborhood. I feel that filling their tummies with a vitamin packed soup, somehow validates the major candy consumption during the day on Halloween. I created the Spider Bites to compliment the soup for a balanced meal and to add a bit of fun to the dinner menu.
Whether you have to bring Halloween to your doorstep, or it comes to you, your family will love this soup and sandwich creation. Fall into this tradition at your house!
Spider Web Pumpkin Soup
- 1 cup diced onion
- ½ cup (1 stick) Challenge Butter
- 8 ounces Challenge Cream Cheese
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package
- 6 thick slices Black Forest ham deli meat
- ¾ cup Challenge Whipped Cream Cheese
- 48 mini pretzel twists
- 24 capers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add butter and diced onions. Cook until onions have softened. Stir in cream cheese and stir until cheese has softened. Add chicken broth, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, pepper and milk. Stir ingredients until well incorporated. Reduce temperature to low, and simmer soup for 20 minutes. Taste for salt, add the desired amount.
To create Spider Bites, place puff pastry on a floured work surface. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles. Arrange circles on a cookie sheet. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until pastry is baked through and the tops are golden.
When cool enough to handle, cut circles in half.
Place 1 tablespoon of cream on bottom portion of pastry. Using the same 2 inch cookie cutter that you used for the pastry, cut out 12 circles from the ham. Place a piece of lunch meat on top of cream cheese.
Break rounded edges off of the pretzels to create 8 legs for each snadwich. Push “pretzel legs” through the lunch meat and cream cheese to anchor. Top sandwich with the top portion of the puff pastry circle. Use some cream cheese to adhere capers to sandwich to create eyes.
Divide the soup among eight large soup bowls. Place sour cream into a squeeze bottle. Starting in the middle of the bowl, create a spiral by squeezing the sour cream on top of soup. With a knife, start in the middle of the swirl and pull out towards the edges of the soup bowl. Continue until you have created a spider web. Serve soup with Spider Bites.
Yield: 8 servings