Monday, October 13, 2014
Butternut pear soup
So there was this one time when I worked really, really, really hard on a very big project for a good long while and when it was over, I jumped in a car and headed upstate with friends in search of All Things Fall. The resulting day was one of near-perfection. We drove through a countryside blazing with color. We took a hayride through an apple orchard. We ate corn on the cob straight from the grill and apple cider donuts that were fresh out of the deep fryer. We went horseback riding, picked fresh flowers from a field, heard not one but two different live bands, and drank mulled wine in a treehouse as I suffered what might be the biggest loss in the history of the (card) game of Hearts. And knowing that no iconic autumn day would be complete without a souvenir, we purchased fresh fruit and veggies from a farm stand.
The next day, I took those same fruits and veggies, chopped them up, roasted them, and turned the whole thing into a hearty fall soup. Admittedly, there's not a whole lot that's special about this soup. I'm not the first person to add pears to butternut squash, or to use a whole bunch of cinnamon, curry powder, and fresh ginger, or to omit any sort of dairy so that the bowl of goodness is actually good for you. But when I eat a spoonful of this soup, I don't taste just any old squash or any old pears - I taste the hours of hard work that it takes to successfully run a small farm. I taste the local soil, knowing that my food came from just a few hours away. I taste the same sun and rain that fell on my own balcony garden. I may be waxing a little too locavore poetic, but I just can't help it - something about making an actual farm-to-table meal stirs something within me. I may be over-exaggerating just a little, but this soup is really, really good.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 3 ripe pears, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- approx. 1/4" fresh ginger, diced
- Olive oil - 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp
- Spices to taste: salt and pepper, rosemary, cinnamon, curry powder
- Large knife
- Cookie sheet
- Oven, stove
- 8-quart dutch oven*
- Immersion blender*
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. On a cookie sheet, evenly lay out the cubed butternut squash and (whole) cloves of garlic, and coat with salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Roast the squash and garlic in the oven for 30 minutes.
Heat the remaining oil in the dutch oven. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until the onions are golden brown. Add the pears, roasted squash, vegetable stock, and spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes (the longer you simmer, the more robust the flavors will be). Using your immersion blender, carefully blend all the ingredients until creamy. Do take caution though! Hot liquid may splash out of the pot, which is never fun. If you find your soup is too thick, add more vegetable stock (1/2 cup at a time) until you've reached your desired constancy. Stirring occasionally, simmer for another 5-10 minutes, then remove from heat and ladle into a bowl.