Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gwen Steege: Roasted Ginger Pumpkin-Pear Soup

A pumpkin soup sweetened with pear and spiced with fresh ginger is the perfect warm-up for chilly days.

Roasted Ginger Pumpkin-Pear Soup
I love all those richly orange winter squashes, but I hate the idea of trying to pare them. Attacking a whole pumpkin, or even a butternut squash, has always been something I go to lengths to avoid. But recently I discovered two easy ways to wrangle the sweet meat out of two of my favorite fall vegetables.

One is to simply cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, cut them further into big chunks, drizzle them with a coating of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven at 400° F for about 30–45 minutes (depending on how small your chunks are). When they’re soft, let them cool enough that you can peel off the skins, and then use them in whatever recipe you’re making. This is not only the easy way to remove the skins, but roasting also brings out more of their sweet flavor.  If you need the pared chunks uncooked for your recipe, however, you can whittle them down to a manageable size by cutting the cleaned halves further into quarters or eighths until you have long, thin pieces — a size you can get a good grip on and peel just as easily as you would a carrot. This method works beautifully for some of the wonderful soups in DeeDee Stovel’s Pumpkin cookbook.

Roasted Ginger Pumpkin-Pear Soup

My basic fall soup makes a wonderful lunch all by itself and, when accompanied by a nice salad and a good loaf of bread, makes supper or lunch. Without the addition of half and half, the soup is smooth and tasty. The cream adds a richness which is nice, but not necessary.

Serves 6

1½ pounds fresh pumpkin, seeds and fibers removed, cut into big chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing on pumpkin
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1–2 red or green ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
4 cups chicken broth, homemade if possible
½ cup half-and-half (optional)

Note: Peeling raw pumpkin is not easy; cooked pumpkin is much simpler. A friend of mine who loves pumpkin roasts it and uses it in soup, peel and all. She says it is delicious.

  1. Heat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Brush each pumpkin chunk with oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel, mash, and measure 3 cups. Store the rest in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  3. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion and shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon of the ginger, the salt, and the pumpkin. Cook for another minute until warm.
  4. Add the pear and broth and cook for about 20 minutes, until the pear is easily pierced with a fork. Stir in the remaining teaspoon of ginger.
  5. In small batches, purée the soup in a blender or with a hand-held blender in the saucepan, until the consistency is smooth and creamy.
  6. Return the soup to the saucepan and add half-and-half, if desired. Gently heat, but do not boil. Serve hot.

Recipe excerpted from Pumpkin © 2005 by Edith Stovel. All rights reserved.

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