We got a beautiful autumn crown squash from our CSA recently. It looked like something out of an old Dutch masters still life and was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
I'd never tried this variety of winter squash before and am happy to report that it has sweet, orange flesh and makes a delicious soup. I also had a few lovely pears from Migliorelli Farm that I thought would go nicely based on a similar soup that chef Curt Robair made at the farmer's market last week – I loved that it was both sweet and savory. And warm! Last week was the first time this fall it's been chilly at the market so I was very grateful for the little cup of hot soup I was clutching in my paws.
I did not have time to roast the squash so I peeled, seeded and cubed it, instead. It cooks quickly in the broth for the soup.
I knew I wanted to use sage in this soup as I think its aromatic, earthy flavor is a perfect complement to the sweetness of the squash. I would have used fresh sage but our plant died this summer because I failed to water it thinking that it would not mind – wrong! So I got out the jar of sage I'd dried last fall, instead.
I sautéed onions and garlic in olive oil and added the dried sage before dumping in the cubed squash and pears.
Then I added vegetable broth and let it simmer for 10 or so minutes until the squash was cooked through and perfectly soft. I added a little half and half to amp up the creaminess but you could skip it or use coconut milk, instead if you do not eat dairy. Then I busted out my trusty wand blender and made quick work of turning the mixture into a beautiful, orange, velvety smooth soup.
I topped it with a generous dollop of sour cream – the rich, tangy flavor is a perfect foil for the sweet, savory soup. I finished my bowl and immediately went back for more.
Winter Squash & Pear Soup with Sage
1 large winter squash (butternut, autumn crown, kabocha, sugar pumpkin, etc.,)
1 medium or large onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1-2 pears, cored and diced
2 tablespoons dried sage, crumbled or 5 leaves fresh, chopped
1 quart vegetable broth
1/2 cup half-n-half, heavy cream or coconut milk (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. In a large pot over medium heat, sautee the onion in the olive oil until translucent (2-3) minutes, then add the garlic and sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes until it begins to smell amazing but before it starts to brown. Add the cubed squash and pear and sautee for another 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and soft when poked with a fork. Turn the heat off, add the cream or coconut milk and puree the soup using an immersion hand blender. If you do not already have one of these wonderful tools (more on why I love mine), please get one! In the meantime, you can either purée the soup in batches in your blender (which is a pain, in my opinion) or just mash it with a potato masher if you don't care about having a really smooth soup.
3. Serve warm topped with a dollop of sour cream (though that is optional if you do not eat dairy, of course!) Especially nice when accompanied with some brown rice or some toast with butter.
Related post on The Garden of Eating: Quick Curried Butternut Squash Soup