Thursday, November 09, 2006

Squash Soup That Tastes Like Pears

You know that old saw about necessity being the mother of invention? Well, sometimes, forgetting an ingredient is the best thing that can happen to a recipe. Not that I’d advocate leaving anything out of this recipe, especially not the pears, which are what make it taste like pears. Truth is, I already saved you that step by spacing on some originally-called-for tomatoes. Now, I couldn’t eat it any other way. In fact, I’ve never eaten it any other way and neither should you.

Squash Soup That Tastes Like Pears

Hit the farmers market for a 2-pound butternut squash, a couple of ripe pears, some garlic and a large leek. If you find yourself in Brooklyn Heights, be sure and patronize the skinny, humpbacked farmer’s stand. A recent count revealed that I’ve escorted nine, possibly ten field trips’ worth of crazed children around that market over the last half-decade, and no matter how many tiny, jacked up hands were laying siege to his produce, that guy always had a smile and some Indian corn to lay on the little monsters. He’s earned your business.

Peel and quarter the pears . Make life easier ! Remove the skin with the same utensil you use on carrots (or, alternatively, hire a scullery maid).

Peel the squash, seed it and cut it into chunks. I won’t lie. This is a much bigger bitch than stripping off pear skin, but it’s slightly more manageable if you cut the neck off, peel that like a giant cucumber, then slice the rounded part into crescents so you can pretend it’s a cantaloupe.

Bisect the leek lengthwise, slice it and rinse as thoroughly as you would your fine hand washables, which presumably do not have sand in them. (Woolite is optional, but not recommended unless you’re casting about for a reason to dial that dishy operator at the Poison Control switchboard.)

Hammer up a couple of cloves of garlic, and put them in a bowl along with the squash, the pears, and the leek. Salt ‘em up with a quarter teaspoon of the good, fresh-from-the-sea stuff, crack some pepper over them, drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil and dump the whole greasy lot out onto a cookie sheet, preferably one with some sort of gutter or guard rail. You don’t want all your goodies plunging to the bottom of the oven when you go in for one of your periodic stirrings, do you? Say, when was the last time you cleaned that thing? I did mine yesterday, but only because I nearly set off the building’s sprinkler system when the run-off from a recent cranberry confection filled the entire apartment with smoke in less time than it takes to light a sparkler. And just between you and me, I’m not sure how thoroughly I sponged off that Easy-Off, though there’s no denying it got the job done. (“Hello, Poison Control?”)

At any rate, this perp’s looking at 45 minutes to an hour at 400º. Don’t forget to stir every so often, so it gets an even tan.

Meanwhile, dissolve two cubes of Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable Bouillon in four cups of water. Congratulations, you’ve just saved yourself umpteen hours of labor, boiling and authenticity. Can I have my own show on the Food Network now?

Is your blender still working? Good, that makes one of us. Load the old nag up with half the roasted produce and half the vegetable stock. Give it enough of a whiz to wind up with something the consistency of baby food (the kind you’d feed to a six-month-old, not one of your older, toothier models.) Repeat with the remaining stock n’ veg. You could probably eat it now, but let’s just cross our eyes and dot our T’s by putting it in a sauce pan over medium heat for ten minutes, shall we?

Serve with sliced scallions, crumbled blue cheese, multigrain bread and anything else that helps you feel like hearty peasant stock when you dunk it in your soup.

Wonder what would happen if you tried adding some tomatoes…and recharging the battery camera battery so as to have enough juice to capture the finished product, which was a pretty pureed gold.

The Brooklyn Heights farmers market runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in front of Borough Hall. Be sure and tell my favorite farmer that he’s burning up the Internet.


Blogger Stephanie J. Rosenbaum said...

I love that old toothless guy! He also has great eggs and really nice honey. This soup sounds delish, and I just happen to already have a squash and a couple of pears lying around. Mmmm mmm good!

4:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ayun! I made the pear and butternut soup tonight and it was a big success. My 11-year-old gobbled it up, blue cheese and all! Shocking! Because I am unable to leave recipes alone, I added some cayenne pepper for a little burn in the throat, and it was a nice touch. Thanks for a great recipe!
-- Cammie

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Mati said...

Oh, Ayun. Exhausting. PEEL the squash? No. Halve and seed the squash and bake it at 350 face up or face down, with or without water in the pan at your whim. Get somebody to rub your feet until it's time t check it, 45 minutes or so, might take an hour -then get your other ingredients in order, sauteeing and so on. Hold each piping hot half in a dishtowel and scoop the flesh into the simmering pot, let it go another ten minutes, then puree.

I was horrified to hear that you still use a regular blender. Go to the regular new things store and get a stick blender that fits in a drawer, does its thing right there in the pot or bowl and cleans up in two seconds (I'm not saying you can't thrift one, just that people actually use em and the only ones I've seen have been crapped out in one way or another).

The classic spendy one is Bamix:

but I'm more than happy with one kinda like ths:

only mine has a little whisk attachment and a food chopper thing. The blender and food processor have been in the basement since I got this thing.

Go! Go! Life's too short to deal with those little gaskets!

11:50 AM  
Blogger robotmadder said...

Sounds delicious. Yes, peeling winter squash is a bitch.

12:34 PM  

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