I missed the last of the season’s peaches on Saturday by THIS much. You can’t see it but I’m holding my thumb and index finger about 4 inches apart. The universal translation for this gesture is one hour of time for each inch of empty air. I got to the Farmers’ Market just after 10:00 AM and the grower told me the last few baskets of peaches went “first thing.” Since the only 6 o’clock I’m acquainted with arrives at supper hour, I decided my plans for the peaches were just not meant to be.
So I grabbed some pears and plums and shuffled home to fill the peach void with something equally luscious but so different I wouldn’t feel cheated. As I walked in the kitchen and slammed the door, the large butternut squash on the counter rolled over like a surrendering puppy. The answer was soup.
On with the oven, in with the squash and pears, and later that afternoon, I had a velvety, sweet soup that made me forget about my lost peaches. At least while I was eating.
Now, what will I do with those plums?
Roasted Squash and Pear Soup
Serves 6 to 8
I got feedback on the new recipe format (Spicy Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers) from only one person. They said it was easy to read but a bit confusing to follow. So, I’m back to the old style. What do you think? List ingredients and methods separately or weave the two together? Or does it not make a difference?
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped in 2-inch pieces
- 4 ripe pears, peeled, seeded and cut in 4 wedges each
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- generous sprinkle of salt
- generous grinding of black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, chopped finely
- 1 stalk celery, chopped finely
- 1 carrot, peeled, chopped finely
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock*
- 4 cups fresh pressed apple cider*
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400F.
Toss the squash and pears in canola oil. Season with salt and pepper the spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, turning once half way through. The squash and pears should be tender and beginning to caramelize.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf and thyme. Saute gently until the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes depending on how big you cut the vegetables. Add the roasted squash and pears.
Add the stock and apple cider. Increase the heat and bring the soup just to a boil. When the liquid reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
In batches, transfer the hot soup to a blender and puree until velvety smooth. (An immersion blender or food processor won’t get the soup smooth enough. I tried.)
Serve with a generous sprinkling of sharp cheddar cheese to balance out the sweet.
* If the soup is too sweet for you, alter the liquid ratio to 5 cups stock and 3 cups cider or even 6 cups stock and 2 cups cider.