I worked in a downtown highrise not far from the Sears Tower and on the ground floor was a little Italian eatery where I ate almost daily. Partly because I didn't have to leave the building and believe me, in February when the wind is blowing and snow is swirling around the streets, not venturing outside was a huge benefit. Frankly, they could have served dog food and I would have eaten it for lunch. But they didn't. They had the most fabulous salads and sandwiches and my absolute favorite was their butternut squash soup. Creamy, rich, and with a hint of curry, oh my God, it was truly divine. I've been looking for a recipe to replicate that soup for the last 15 years. I've tried countless homemade recipes, sampled canned butternut squash soup and even tried the fancier boxed organic versions and nothing comes close. They all leave me disappointed.
While the following recipe still doesn't quite replicate my Chicago favorite, it's the closest thing I've found. With the leaves turning and winter approaching, this is the perfect companion on a chilly autumn night. And it happens to be squash and pear season, so you can use the freshest ingredients available.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Butternut Squash and Pear Soup (from Dave Lieberman and Foodnetwork.com)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 pears, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 quart low sodium chicken stock, or enough to cover the squash and pears in a sauce pan
- 1 sprig rosemary
- Heavy cream
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper and granulated sugar
- In a 4-quart saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sweat them for a few minutes.
- Add squash and pears and sweat those too.
- Pour in the stock, enough to cover the squash and pears.
- Add the sprig of rosemary and bring to a simmer.
- Cook until the squash is fork tender, about 15 to 18 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender. (If you don't have one, just puree it in batches in a regular blender.)
- Add a touch of cream and season to taste.