Squashes and Pear Soup

I have perfected my butternut squash soup through a series of happy screw-ups.  One adjustment is adding different kinds of squashes–like acorn squash and pumpkin–which, you know is a squash.  What you’re looking for, when you start to tinker with this and make it your own, is a combination of sweet, savory, and creamy.  It’s supposed to be a comfort food that creates a bit of curiosity.
You may be tempted to low-cal this, but leaving the cream out leaves the taste out.  Have half, instead. You also may be tempted to use your own chicken broth.  Although I’m notorious for saving scraps and concocting huge pots of broth on a Sunday afternoon—to the disgust of my family members who have to smell something succulent that they’re not going to be eating for weeks–I use store-bought broth in this because it keeps the recipe consistent.  Meaning, I want the broth to be a constant—not a variable.
Let me pause for reflection lest I mislead you further.  It seems that I’ve been nonchalantly writing “broth” when maybe I should have been writing “stock.”  My Food Lover’s Companion comes to my rescue:
Broth: A liquid resulting from cooking vegetables, meat or fish in water. …OK sounds like I haven’t embarrassed myself. So what’s stock?
Stock: In the most basic terms, stock is the strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fish and other seasoning ingredients in water.  A brown stock is made by browning bones, vegetables and other ingredients before they’re cooked in the liquid.
Most soups begin with a stock of some kind, and many sauces are based on reduced stocks.
Alert the fam.  I’ve been making stocks.  But for this recipe I use the box that says “chicken broth.”  Hmmm,  I thought stocks went into soups.  No worries.  Basically, grab the low-fat, low-sodium stuff off of the shelf and get on with the recipe.
I think I’ll go make some stock…just in case.
Squashes and Pear Soup       8 servings
  • 1 tbl butter or bacon fat
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 15 oz. can pears, drained
  • 1 small acorn squash
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1-quart low sodium chicken stock or broth…whatever!
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Nutmeg to taste (1/4-1/2 nut)
  • Heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sour cream (optional)
Melt the butter or bacon fat over medium-high heat and cook the onions until soft but not brown.
Roast the halved squashes in a 400 degree oven until soft. Let cool and scoop out the filling into a soup pot. Add rosemary sprig, nutmeg, pepper, drained pears, pumpkin, stock, and onions.  Cook on low for an hour, stirring.
Remove the rosemary. Puree with immersion blender.
Add the cream and reheat gently.
Dollop with cream or sour cream if desired.
Serve with crusty sourdough bread for a different dimension.
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