Day 180: Squash & Pear Soup ♥

Mmm, mmmm, good.

This is the second week cooking for a sick neighbor and his wife, comfort food for him, a reprieve for her. Last week the objective was lots of calories. As happens in these situations, however, this is a new week and the new alternative medicine doctor has prescribed what I think would be called a macrobiotic diet. No meat, no fish, no dairy. No refined flour or sugar.

So vegetables and fruits and grains are the order of the day -- yet he still needs dense calories because his appetite is diminished. It's a challenge, cooking with so many restrictions, but fascinating too.

Tonight's soup was inspired by Simply Recipes, posted here just this week. It's modified some for the circumstances but honors the promising premise of squash and pear.

The next time you roast a butternut squash, roast two, the second one for this delicious soup.

Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time-to-table: 3 - 4 hours
Makes 10 cups

Hands-on time: 5 to start, 5 to finish
Start-to-finish: 90 minutes

3+ pound butternut squash (a 3 1/4 pound squash yielded the 3 1/2 cups squash the soup needs)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Wash and dry the squash, then carefully cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and internal gunk and discard. Place the squash face-down on a rimmed baking sheet (liquid will extrude, a flat sheet will make a big mess in the oven!) and insert in the oven for 45 - 50 minutes (there's no need to wait for the oven to finish preheating). When the timer goes off, insert a knife into the squash to make sure it's fully cooked all the way through. If it is, let it cool and then scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin.

NOTE: StephenCooks here recommends that for a sweeter, more succulent soup, roast the squash at 400F for 90 minutes.

Hands-on time: 20 minutes to start, 5 to finish
Start-to-finish: 70 - 120 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil (Simply Recipes uses butter)
1 large onion, chopped
2 pears (about 1 pound), cored (Smply Recipes peels the pears and you may want to too, leaving them on does leave a grainy texture that isn't displeasing but is very noticeable)
1 teaspoon curry (Simply Recipe uses 2 1/2 teaspoons, I reduced the quantity because spices don't always taste good to people who're sick; but I was surprised to find, myself, that it was plenty)

2 14.5 ounce cans vegetable broth
2 cups water (next time I'll eliminate this unless there's lots of time to cook the soup down)

1 cup fruit juice (Simply Recipes specifies pear nectar, I used what was on hand, 1/2 cup mango nectar and 1/2 cup orange juice)
3 1/2 cups cooked squash
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Sprinkle of black pepper

14.5 ounce can coconut milk (tonight, used the on-hand light coconut milk, Simply Recipes suggests 1/2 cup half 'n' half)
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Heat a Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. When it's hot, add the olive oil. When it's hot, add the onions and pears as they're prepped. Stir in the curry. Let cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion is cooked through and beginning to brown.

While the onions/pears cook, bring the broth and water (if using) to a boil in the microwave. (Skip this step if you've got lots of time.) Add the squash and fruit juice to the onion mixture, then the hot liquid, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to MEDIUM and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. (After 40 minutes, tonight's soup was still very thin, like gruel and not at all flavorful. This is why I wouldn't use the water another time. Uncovered, it took another 45 minutes to reach a more soup-like consistency though still not as thick-looking as the photo in Simply Recipes.)

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. Alternatively, transfer the mixture to a blender in batches, filling it no more than halfway with each batch. (Be careful, overfilling a blender with hot liquid will cause it to 'explode' all over.) Return to the pot and stir in coconut milk. Rewarm but do not boil. Taste and season to taste.

Per Cup: 121 Cal (29% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 64% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 21 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 43 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 325 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points


Thanks, I made this on Sunday and it's been lunch and dinner a couple of times already. Turned out yummy even though I was too lazy to put it through the blender. I subbed soy milk for coconut and garnished with walnuts for texture contrast.

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