Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pear Squash Soup

This started out as a recipe on, developed by Leah Koenig. Hers suggests chicken stock and crème fraiche, and it was delicious that way.  I’ve been fiddling with it and am also happy with this vegan version. If you prefer to head in the other direction, I think this could be an example of the unknown (to me) omnivore’s advice about the original Moosewood Cookbook: “Take any recipe and just add some bacon.” 

I used the sugar loaf delicata variety pictured here. Any flavorful winter squash would be fine. Do keep in mind if you have delicatas that they, like acorn squash and most pumpkins, are the same species (Cucurbita pepo) as summer squash like zucchini. They don’t hold their flavor nearly as well as the Hokkaidos, butternuts, kabochas and their ilk. So if you have a harvest of both, use the delicatas first. 

It’s also easy to have too many pears this time of year, since they tend to ripen in a rush. This could be a good recipe to make in quantity and freeze, or have friends over for Soup Night.

I just figured this one out, so it is not in the Winter Harvest Cookbook. My friends and I have decided that at my current pace of a revised edition every 20 years, the 2030 Winter Harvest will be the Winter Puree Cookbook as we’ll mostly be in our 80s. This would fit right in, not that I intend to wait that long to make it again.

Pear and Squash Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ cups chopped onions or shallots (I used leeks and yellow onion)

A bout 2 cups baked winter squash.( I used the Sugar Loaf Delicata variety pictured)

About 2 cups ripe but still firm pears, peeled, cored, and chopped

About 1 cup chopped potato (Suit your taste on the peel. If you want a smoother purée, then peel it; if you like a bit more texture, just give the spud a scrub)

½ teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (the choice depends in part on how much you may want to cut the sweetness of the squash and pears)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons miso (I used yellow miso)

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper

Maple syrup (optional)

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook 3 or 4 minutes until they are limp. Stir so they don’t stick. Add chopped potato, cook another 2 or 3 minutes, and add chopped pears for another few minutes. Onions should be soft. 

Add roasted squash, stir in thyme, add vinegar and stock, stir again, and bring to a simmer. Put miso in a small cup. Ladle out some stock and mix with the miso to liquefy. Add to the pot and simmer until potatoes and pears are completely cooked. 

Remove soup from heat and purée to taste. I used an immersion blender. Stir in salt, pepper, and paprika.

Drizzle a bit of maple syrup over each serving if you want.

Note: I nearly always roast squash no matter what the original recipe says. It’s a hassle to peel a winter squash, especially a ribby one like an acorn squash, and I like the caramelization that happens in roasting, as I’m not generally a fan of ultra-sweet vegetables.  Also, it’s much easier to deal with excess if it’s roasted. Just scoop it into a container and freeze it; that’s it. I also intend to try drying the roasted purée, an old treatment I saw somewhere. I'll report when I have more information.

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