A yummy, warming soup for fall. Puree the soup until smooth or leave a little chunky if you would like. The butter-sauteed pears add a nice sweet touch and the fresh ginger a bite of heat. Use a flavorful, all-purpose cooking sea salt, such as fine grain grey sea salt. Omit the cream if you would like a lighter version.
One 3-pound winter squash or sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 bay medium leaf
1 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
½ teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
6 cups chicken stock, approximately, preferably homemade
2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into smallish chunks
¼ to ½ cup heavy cream
1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
½ cup sour cream or crème fraîche, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash or pumpkin into quarters and remove peel and seeds. Cut the quarters into large chunks and place in a bowl. Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil over pieces, sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat pieces completely with oil. Arrange pieces on a baking sheet in one layer. You don't want to crowd the pan or the squash will steam and not roast. Transfer sheet to the oven. Roast squash or pumpkin for 20 minutes. Toss and continue roasting another 20 minutes or so until tender. If the chunks are larger, roast a bit longer until tender. Remove the sheet from the oven and set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 3-quart heavy-bottomed casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, season with sea salt, toss well, and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Saute another minute. Add reserved roasted squash or pumpkin, bay leaf, thyme, and chicken stock. Bring soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to blend flavors.
While the soup cooks, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add pear chunks and toss to coat with the butter. Cook the pears until they have softened and the edges start to brown and caramelize. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, toss, and cook another minute. Transfer the pear chunks to a plate and set aside.
When the soup is cooked, remove and discard the bay leaf. Purée soup in batches until smooth or a bit chunky. Use an immersion blender, food processor, or a blender. Return to the pot and whisk in heavy cream to taste and sour cream if using. Gently reheat without boiling, taste and add more sea salt and some black pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls and top with reserved pears.
Vary Through the Seasons
- And curry with the onions and saute together. Finish the soup with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
- Top the soup with sauteed leeks in place of the pears.
- Make the soup with asparagus in place of the squash and garnish with minced ham, lemon zest, and parsley.
- Make the soup with cauliflower in place of the squash and garnish with roasted red pepper butter and crouton.
- Make the soup with fennel in place of the squash and garnish with orange zest and Parmesan cheese.
- Make the soup with mushrooms and onions and garnish with Madeira.
- Make the soup with sweet potato and garnish with cooked diced apple and red onion.
- Make the soup with carrots and garnish with baby peas, fennel slivers, and chopped mint.
Recipe Copyright Deirdre Davis 2016
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