The first time I made this soup it was Fall 2008 but chances are pretty good that it was several years before that when I clipped the recipe from Country Living magazine. This soup reminds me of long days in our first home with a baby or two. Of stroller walks on colorful tree-lined streets to Whole Foods Market–all of us bundled against the crisp air.
When what I was hoping for was a long stretch of nap so I could make this soup and have it on the table for dinner –whatever time that could be. When the sound of a train whistle in the distance announced that the husband would be rounding our corner at any moment, hungry and tired, carrying the scent of a lower Manhattan autumn day. Of Penn Station roasted nuts and subway steam pushing up through rusty sidewalk grates.
These days I am inclined to take my bowlful of soup outside, along with my long quilted winter coat, a heavy blanket and wool mittens and sit on the front porch glad for the twilight and the chill against my cheeks.
- 1 large butternut squash or 2 small ones (3-4 pounds total)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
- 1 chopped shallot (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 11/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (about 2 cups: I used Bartlett)
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (leaves only)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and place seeds up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in a 400° F oven. Add about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan and roast until tender, until easily pierced with a fork. Should take 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Scoop out the flesh, leaving behind the peel, and mash coarsely. At this point you may refrigerate the squash overnight and continue making the soup the next day.
In a Dutch oven or 6-quart saucepan, heat oil and add onion, shallot, ginger, jalapeño, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until onion is soft and begins to turn light brown (10 minutes or so). Add pears and cook another 5 minutes. Measure 3 cups of mashed squash and add to the Dutch oven and cook another 5 minutes.
Stir in the stock, honey and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Purée in batches in a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender–way less work and mess–and return to the pot. Stir in cream and keep warm. Do not boil.