Here’s another hit from my visit to the wilds of Pennsylvania.  I had something very much like this soup as a starter at Harvest, one of the Hotel Hershey’s restaurants. It was very good, and like most vegetable puree-type soups, I figured it had to be pretty easy… and it was. Hooray! It’s mild and sweet and earthy; one has to go for that sort of thing, though, particularly since adding more salt won’t make it less sweet, just icky. So, own the mellow sweetness and go to town.

The restaurant’s version was surprisingly creamy, so much so that I wondered what the hell dairy they’d snuck into it. But, to my surprise, my decidedly not “mit schlag” version was similarly voluptuous. Yay for squashy starches in addition to squashy sugars, then. Cool! (In a very NOT hot wings and line dancing sort of way…)

Pumpkin Pear Soup
Yield: 6 starter servings

2 tbs unsalted butter
3 medium onions
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 lb butternut squash
3 ripe pears
~4 c low sodium vegetable stock
! tsp each: salt & freshly ground black pepper
optional: freshly squeezed lemon juice, honey

Melt butter in a heavy 4-5 qt pot over medium-low heat. Peel and chop the onions before dumping them into the pot. Saute till translucent, about 6 minutes. While the onions are doing their thing, peel and seed the squash before cutting it into 1″ pieces. Peel, core and cube the pears as well. Cut the garlic into fine matchsticks and add to the pot, sauteing an additional minute or so, till fragrant. Add the squash, pears, and enough stock to almost cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer till squash is (very) fork tender, 15-20 minutes.  Puree using an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. (Option A is well worth the investment, tho.)  When perfectly smooth, taste and adjust the seasoning. I added a bit of lemon juice, a little more salt, and a spot of honey–my squash wasn’t that sweet and I’d used chicken stock–it’s better, I think, to go with the inherent sweetness of a vegetable stock instead. Just fiddle till it’s to your liking and serve hot with a bit of nice wheaty bread.