Who says the French don’t celebrate Thanksgiving? If they live stateside, chances are you’ll find a turkey as the centerpiece of the table come Thanksgiving Day. You might also find a version of this fanciful and playful soup, which takes an iconic ingredient — pumpkin — and gives it some French flair. If you’re using fresh pumpkin, save the shell for serving the soup.
Place the mussels and water in a large pot over high heat. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the mussels have steamed open, drain and reserve the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, melt the butter over low heat in a large pot and sweat the shallots without coloring them. Turn the heat up to high, and add the pumpkin. Allow to soften for 7-8 minutes, making sure to stir regularly and crush the flesh.
Add the mussel cooking liquid, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 40 minutes, adding water if necessary. Blend in the cream and allow to simmer 6-7 more minutes.
Blend the mixture using an immersion blender until your desired consistency is achieved. (Or, transfer to a blender and carefully purée in batches. Return the soup to the pot afterwards.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
Return to a simmer over low heat and add the mussels, making sure not to boil them. Serve in heated soup plates, or a hollowed-out mini pumpkins, and garnish each with a sprig of chervil.