PEAR AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
by Romney Steele
At the first sign of a rain or a blustery wind in the heart of fall, nothing says home like a warming squash soup. Pears (or apples) add a natural sweetness to the soup and contribute to its velvety smooth texture once incorporated. Garnish with toasted rounds of bread smeared with a little blue cheese for a fancier affair, or simply with lightly whisked cream or a dollop of plain yogurt.
Serves 4 to 6
• 1 medium butternut or kabocha squash, halved and seeded
• 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
• About a 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
• 2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
• 4 cups good-quality chicken stock or water, plus more to thin
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the squash into large chunks and arrange in a casserole dish or deep baking pan, cut sides down. Add about 1/4 cup water, enough to wet the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the flesh is soft.
Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and fresh ginger. Add the sguash, pears, chicken stock, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the carrots and pears are soft and the flavors have fully melded, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly, then puree in a blender, or use an immersion mixer, blending right in the pot (off the heat). Reheat the soup and season with salt and pepper and a pinch more curry powder, to taste. Thin as needed with more chicken stock or water to reach desired consistency.