butternut squash soup with pear, cider and vanilla

January 19th, 2011

There are very few benefits of growing up picky. I mean, being a picky adult is just kind of embarrassing. However, there’s one good thing about turning up my nose to vegetables for most of my life… that’s discovery. I love discovering a “new” vegetable! It’s like getting a new toy… I just want to play with them. Hence the second butternut squash recipe in two weeks. Seriously, I can’t believe I spent the first 30 years of my life not eating butternut squash! Winters from here on out will not be the bleak season between pears and rhubarb, instead there’s now something to look forward to. I love it!

Making this soup is pretty simple, especially if you have one of those fancy immersion blenders (I don’t). It’s mostly a waiting game for the vegetables to soften. Once things are nice a tender, pull out that immersion blender or carefully add the mixture (in batches) into a blender. Most of the ingredients in the soup are on the sweeter side, squash, pears, vanilla, cider… which all sound amazing, but I wanted to make sure to balance that out a little so I added a little cayenne pepper for a little excitement.

The final result is a soup that’s rich in flavor and texture. Seriously, I’m not even a huge soup fan, but this stuff will have you coming back for more. All the ingredients work so well together; especially with that hint of cayenne that peeks through just enough that you know it’s there but not enough to overwhelm. I upped the ante a tiny bit by adding a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives, both for pretty’s sake and for a little extra texture. It’s good stuff… and that’s after having it three times in the past two days.

butternut squash soup with pear, cider and vanilla
makes 4-6 servings
adapted from a homemade life

1 T olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta, finely chopped optional
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
2 pears, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup cider
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
1/2 cup half and half
dollop of sour cream and chives, for garnish

Heat the olive oil, pancetta and onions in large pot or dutch oven, over medium-low heat, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the squash and pears and cook for 10-15 more minutes, until onions soften and become transparent and the pears begin to fall apart.
Add the cider and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.
Using a blender or food processor and working in small batches (be careful, hot liquids expand), fill blender no more than one-third full and purée until smooth.
Return the soup back to the pot, adding the salt and cayenne pepper. Continue to cook until the soup is about one-half to one-third its original volume. The final consistency is up to you.
While the soup is reducing, combine the vanilla bean (split and seeded) and the half and half in a small saucepan. Gently warm it over low heat, be careful not to boil. Once it begins to steam, remove from the heat and set aside.
Once the soup is the consistency you prefer, gently stir in the half and half mixture.
Spoon the soup into individual bowls, garnishing with sour cream and fresh chives.

Comments: 11 Total

  1. Caroline Shields

    January 19, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I love the use of cider in here. I always use a touch of red wine vinegar.

  2. Sarah

    January 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Oh, that sounds divine! Next grocery store hit, I’ll definitely have to pick up some butternut. It must be amazing with the cider & pancetta – a little salt & a little sweet. Yum!

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  4. Emily Flippin Maruna

    January 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    This looks so yummy! http://wp.me/pkcUM-Av

  5. Dana

    January 20, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Squash and pear? I never would have thought of that combo!

  6. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

    January 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    This sounds good enough to be a dessert!

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