Top | Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison's Kitchen

Roasted Squash, Pear, and Ginger Soup

(recipe, Deborah Madison)


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Introduction

This fall soup is like putting on the first sweater of the season: it just feels so good. Although the soup takes several steps — roasting the squash and pears (which can be done a day ahead of time), cooking them, and finally puréeing the soup — none involve much from you. It's an easily made soup that will keep well for days — a great possibility for a holiday meal.

Ingredients

  1. 1 Buttercup, Perfection, or other dense winter squash, rinsed (2½ pounds total)
  2. 3 ripe but firm pears, any variety, quartered, seeds and stems removed
  3. 1 chunk fresh ginger root (about 2 inches long), thinly sliced
  4. Sunflower-seed oil or olive oil for roasting the squash and pears
  5. Sea salt
  6. 2 Tbsp. butter or sunflower-seed oil
  7. 1 onion, thinly sliced
  8. ½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast the squash and the pears: Cut the squash in half, scrape out and reserve the seeds, then cut each half into thirds. Put the pieces in a large baking dish or roasting pan with the pears and all but a few slices of the ginger. Brush with oil, season with salt, and bake until fragrant and tender, about 1 hour. Turn the pieces once or twice so that they have a chance to caramelize on more than one surface. If the squash seems very dry (some varieties are), add 1 cup water to the pan to create steam and cover with foil.
  3. When the squash is tender, transfer everything from the pan to a cutting board, add 1 cup water to the pan, and scrape to dissolve the juices, reserving the liquid. Scrape the flesh of the squash away from the skins. You should have about 2 cups of squash flesh.
  4. Make the stock: Bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add the reserved seeds and, eventually, the squash skins, the remaining ginger, and ½ teaspoon salt. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Make the soup: Meanwhile, melt the butter or oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, give it a stir, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown a bit and is fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the pears, ginger, and squash, then the reserved deglazing water. Strain the stock into the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Cool briefly, then purée until smooth and pass through a food mill or strainer to ensure a silky texture.
  6. To serve: Serve as is, or swirl in the crème fraîche or sour cream.

Note

Variations: Dice a pear or an apple, sprinkle with a little sugar, and caramelize in a little butter or oil. Use these "croutons" as a finishing touch. Omit the ginger and add cooked wild rice to the finished soup. Crisp thin strips of fresh ginger in oil or butter and add a cluster to each serving.