Acorn Squash and Pear Soup

by feastonthecheap on October 28, 2010

Mary Anne here. Wandering the aisles of my local market, I noticed that pears were finally out in full force…and were conveniently nestled beside a display of the most beautiful green acorn squash I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Right there in the supermarket, I began conjuring up a soup that wed these disparate beauties and I began loading up my basket with Vidalia onions, sweet potatoes, and the enticing pears and squash.

I based this recipe on my Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup, having learned that roasting the vegetables creates a flavor as brilliant as the colors of the produce itself. The texture is thick and smooth, rich and naturally creamy. In fact, it is so thick (no cream!), you might want to thin it further with a bit of water or more stock when reheating. Squash can be a bit bland by nature so the pears truly do sweeten the pot, aided only by a small amount of brown sugar. This veggie and fruit pairing is a match made in culinary heaven!

Our Acorn Squash and Pear Soup is an elegant starter course for a dinner party, but it’s certainly substantial enough to serve as the main event…particularly on a blustery autumn evening.

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Acorn Squash and Pear Soup
Makes 12 cups

Note 1: This freezes well and can be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time.

Note 2: I used 2 medium-large casserole dishes to roast the veggies. The acorn squash needs to cook longer, so that went in first. A half-hour later, I put the pears and sweet potatoes together in the second dish. Both fit nicely, side by side, in my standard oven.

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, halved, skin intact – $2.76
2 Acorn or Butternut squash, about 3 ½ lbs. total weight, halved and seeds scooped out – $5.50
3 Anjou, Bosc, or Bartlett pears, seeded and cored, skin intact – $2.20
1 large Vidalia or Maui onion, sliced thin and then quartered – $1.09
8 teaspoons brown sugar – stock
1 stick of sweet butter, sliced into 8 pieces – stock
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
8 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock or packaged low sodium broth – $5.00
½ teaspoon nutmeg – stock
1 teaspoon ground ginger – stock
¼ teaspoon ground allspice – stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Roasted pecans to garnish (optional)
A dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream, or greek yogurt to garnish (optional)
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $16.55
Total Per 1 Cup Portion: $1.40

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash into halves, scooping out the seeds. Place the squash in a large roasting pan, with cut sides up.

2. Using 4 Tablespoons of the butter, tuck a pat into each squash half along with 1 Teaspoon of the brown sugar. Pour 2 cups of the chicken broth around, not over the squash. Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and bake for 2 hours until the veggies are soft. Set a second timer for 30 minutes, as that marks the time to put the pears and sweet potatoes into the oven.

3. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame. Sauté the sliced onion, stirring frequently until golden and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

4. Using the second casserole dish, arrange the halved pears and sweet potatoes as described for the squash in step 1. Using the remaining brown sugar and butter, divide equally between the sweet potato halves. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock around but not over the fruit and vegetables. Bake for 1½ hours alongside the squash.

5. Remove the veggies and fruit from the oven when fork-tender and allow to cool enough to handle. Carefully scoop out squash, sweet potato, and pear pulp, discarding their skins. Add all of the pulp to the onions in the large stockpot. Add the remaining 5 cups of chicken broth along with the accumulated liquid from your roasting pans. Season with ginger, nutmeg, allspice, salt and ground black pepper.

6. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

7. Transfer the soup (in batches) to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until smooth, returning each pureed batch to the soup pot. Gently reheat and correct the seasonings. Garnish individual servings with a small dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche and roasted pecans, if desired.