Not just any soup, but a thick, lightly curry-flavored bisque with smoked ham and white wine (at the top). I have the recipe. It's from a Senegalese chef on a river barge in France.
Sad for me that I wasn't on the barge, but Krisell Steingraber was. And she got the recipe, handwritten by the chef, and passed it on to me through her husband, Scott.
It's a big batch, calling for 12 pounds of pumpkin, but that's what Krisell needed for the lunch she organized for my group of food and wine writers.
The lunch took place outdoors behind the tasting room at Kriselle Cellars in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon, not far from Medford.
Scott and Krisell (she spells her name without an e at the end) own the winery, the vineyards, the horse and cow barns in the distance and the broad stretch of land between these and the tasting room.
It's an idyllic place to eat and sip the wines that Scott Steingraber makes. Krisell arranges the food, which includes platters of appetizers that you can order when you go there to taste. And on weekends they fire up the pizza oven.
I liked the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc that Scott poured as we gathered in the tasting room before lunch (above). It was bright, with lots of fruit--I tasted grapefruit and pineapple. And then a beautiful 2014 Viognier with hints of pear and peach.
"This is one of the warmest areas in the valley," he said. "The weather is closer to California than what you think of Oregon. i'm more proud of the Cabernets than anything else we do," he continued, explaining that heat gets the fruit to the ideal stage of ripeness.
The 2012 D'Itani, with nice notes of pepper and spice, came next. "It's a Bordeaux blend with a bit of Spanish influence," Steingraber said. The blend is 50% Cabernet Franc, followed by Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.
After tasting that, we went outdoors for lunch, which started with pours of the 2012 Malbec, made entirely from estate-grown fruit. "I love Malbec as a blender as well," he said. "It's got this nice deep inky purple color."
Next came the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, certainly good enough for Steingraber to be proud of, followed by the 2012 Tempranillo. "I do a fairly rich style," he said. "This [the Tempranillo] is the one wine done in American oak." The wine spent 30 months in those barrels.
Meanwhile, we were eating the croissant sandwiches filled with curried chicken salad that you can see at the top and the pumpkin bisque. The curry flavor of the bisque came from coriander and cumin, not curry powder.
Red wine with dessert? Why not? And so back came the 2012 Malbec, big and rich with appealing berry flavors. Its match was Swedish cream (above), inspired by Krisell's Swedish mother. In her own version, Krisell made the cream extra rich by combining sour cream and yogurt with heavy cream, warmed with orange peel. She also put a splash of orange juice into the raspberry coulis on top.
Krisell is just as creative with food as her husband is with wine. "I have a hard time following a recipe," she said.
Although it was harvest time, Scott sat with us throughout the lunch, a sacrifice, I am sure, although maybe not. "Krisell and I love pairing food with wine," he said. Above, they get together for a photo.
A civil engineer, Steingraber realized he was much more interested in making wine, and his hobby grew into this dream-like estate. The first Kriselle wines were released in 2012. That was the 2009 vintage. The tasting room opened in 2012.
Thirty acres are planted to grapes, including the Cabernet vines that we could see from the table as we ate (above). Steingraber also buys fruit, all of it from the area. He looks for wines that he likes and then finds out where the grapes came from. For future vintages he has planted Merlot and Albariño.
Annual production now is 4,000 cases, most of it sold through the tasting room and wine club. You may find the wines at a few local restaurants, but not in markets and wine shops. The best way to get them is to go to the winery. This is not a sacrifice. It's a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.