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Rach makes a pumpkin soup and muffaletta grilled cheese combo that takes all the best flavors of fall and turns them into comfort food. 

For olive spread, Rach likes Central Grocery's Italian Olive Salad.


For the Pumpkin Soup:
  • One  2-pound cheese pumpkin or any orange-flesh pumpkin
  • Non-aerosol cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice 
  • ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 6 cups stock or bone broth
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, halved 
  • ¾ cup crème fraiche, sour cream or heavy cream, optional
For the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  •  Sliced peasant or sesame Italian bread 
  • 1 cup prepared olive salad (Rach like's Central Grocery) , or 1 cup giardiniera, drained, and 1 cup green olives, pitted
  • 2 red field or bell peppers  
  • ¾ pound deli-sliced provolone
  • 1 pound total combined: prosciutto cotto, mortadella with pistachios, salami, capicola 


Serves: 4


For the Pumpkin Soup, preheat oven to 425˚F. 

Halve pumpkin with a serrated knife and scoop out fibrous material, rinse and toast seeds if you like texture and taste of them. Spray the pumpkin and season liberally: salt, pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and paprika. Roast cut-side down 35 to 40 minutes to tender, let stand to cool, scoop all flesh into food processor and puree.

Heat stock and 2 cups water to boil with ginger, bay, garlic, and onion, reduce by ⅓ at low bubble, then remove from heat, strain, return to pot and whisk in puree and, if using, the cream. 

For the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, in small pot or skillet, heat oil, garlic and butter at low bubble to infuse flavor. 

Paint 1 side of 8 slices of bread. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. If making olive salad, combine giardiniera and olives in processor and pulse to combine and finely chop.  

Char peppers under broiler or over open flame, cover and cool, peel, seed and stem, then slice. 

Make sandwich: butter-side out bread brushed with garlic butter mixture, olive salad, cheese, peppers, meats, cheese, more olive salad, bread. 

Griddle the grilled cheeses to toasty and golden. 

Serve sandwiches with soup.