Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup

Ok, I’ll admit it, this soup is not pretty. It’s kind of a drab, wallpaper pasty tan, not quite orange, not quite brown, not quite…anything. Luckily, sometimes delicious things come in less-than-stellar packages.

This is one of those easy winter soups that uses perfectly seasonal ingredients to make something comforting and delicious. Sure, it’s similar to all those other squash soups—in fact, I think there may be one or two on this site already—but the addition of fennel and pear and a little orange zest creates something a wee bit more interesting than your average bear. Err, I mean soup.

This soup is good for you, sweet, vegetal and easy peasy. It’s best with a splash of lemon juice  (as Dorie suggests) and a bit of greek yogurt. Have you noticed yet that I put Greek yogurt on everything? Everything. It makes it all better. All the foods.

I highly recommend using a traditional blender for this soup. Don’t get me wrong, I love my immersion blender (otherwise known as the vroom vroom) as much as the next gal, but it just doesn’t get things as smooth as a good old-fashioned blender. A word of caution though. As I was transferring my soup cupful by cupful to the blender, I was thinking to myself that when I posted this recipe, I should remind people to only fill the blender halfway (at most) and to hold the lid of a blender on with a towel, particularly if the seal isn’t too tight. Hot soup EXPAAANNNNDS when you blend it and a boiling-hot explosion is something you want to avoid. So here I am, planning my advice, blending my soup, lost in thought and not paying too much attention…tra la la la…soupysoupsoup….SPLATTER. Soup. Is. Burny. I will never learn to take my own advice, will I? I’ve said it a million times on here and I’ll say it once again: Do as I say, not as I do. In this instance, you may save yourself some skin.

Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table.

I used acorn squash, but if you used something more orange in color, it would probably be prettier.

3 lbs squash (acorn, butternut, cheese pumpkin…anything really)
Olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t grated nutmeg
6 c chicken broth (low sodium)
2 ripe pears, peeled and chopped
2 strips of orange peel, pith removed
1-2 lemons

  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil
  • Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and rub flesh with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and place on the prepared baking sheet
  • Bake ~75 min or until very soft when pierced with a fork or knife. Remove from oven, let cool until you can handle it, then scoop out the flesh and save for later
  • Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot over medium heat, warm 2 T olive oil; add onions (both kinds), sprinkle with salt and cook until softening, but not brown
  • Add the fennel, celery, garlic and another pinch salt and cook until all vegetables are softened (~5-10 min)
  • Add the spices, another pinch of salt and some black pepper and cook for 1 min
  • Add the squash and broth to the pot and increase heat to high; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the pear and orange zest
  • Cook for ~20 min, partially covered, until you can mash the pear with the back of a spoon
  • Puree in batches in a blender (or use an immersion blender). Season with salt and pepper
  • Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon juice over the top (and maybe some greek yogurt)
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