nosh friday: butternut squash, pear and cider soup with vanilla bean
(Sorry this is late again. My internet pooed out on me last night just as I was finishing this. Sheesh, internet…)
I came across this recipe last weekend while flipping through my much-loved (and happily stained) copy of Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, looking for something comforting to make. With the crispness of fall settling in like a blanket, I wanted SOUP. And not just any soup, but a thick, cozy, pretty soup.
And my friends, if any soup could be classified as “pretty,” it is this soup — creamy gold with vanilla bean flecks speckled throughout. Oh mama, it was beautiful to behold…and even better to eat!
If vanilla bean sounds a little high-falutin’ for your tastes, I bet this soup would be great with a little brandy tossed in with the cider, or even drizzled with a bit of maple syrup right before you serve it.
Nom to the nom nom.
Butternut Squash, Pear and Cider Soup with Vanilla Bean
From A Homemade Life
3 T. olive oil
One 2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the squash, pears and onion and stir to coat with oil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes (my note: I found it took closer to 20 minutes or more; then again, my pears weren’t quite ripe), stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the pears are starting to fall apart.
Add the cider (don’t forget to pour a mug for yourself) and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the stock, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the mixture, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.
Using a blender, food processor or immersion blender, puree the mixture. (If you use a blender or food processor, work in small batches and only fill it up one-third; hot liquids expand and I would hate for you and your kitchen to get doused in hot soup.) Once pureed and back in the pot, add the salt and continue to cook on low heat until it reaches the consistency of your choice.
While the soup is reducing, split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and using the tip of the knife, scrape out the seeds. Toss the seeds and the bean into a small pot with the half-and-half or cream and infuse over low heat. Don’t let it boil, but let it get nice and steamy. Once it’s hot and smelling like heaven, remove it from the heat and discard the pod. Use a whisk to break up any seed bits.
Pour the hot, vanilla-infused mixture into the soup, once it’s reached its desired thickness, and stir together. Taste and adjust any seasonings as necessary.
Serve hot and preferably with a nice hunk of bread.
Makes 4 to 5 servings