Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
(courtesy of Debbie Branby, adapted from Routh Street Café, Dallas, Texas) 2 RIPE PEARS
2 CUPS DRY WHITE WINE
¼ CUP SUGAR
¼ TEASPOON GROUND CINNAMON
JUICE OF ONE LEMON
¼ CUP BRANDY 2 POUNDS BUTTERNUT SQUASH
2 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER
½ CUP MINCED YELLOW ONION
2 STALKS CELERY CHOPPED
2 SMALL CARROTS CHOPPED
½ SERRANO CHILI, SEEDED AND CHOPPED
1 TEASPOON FINELY CHOPPED FRESH THYME, OR ¼ TEASPOON DRIED THYME
1 CUP CHICKEN STOCK
3 CUPS HEAVY CREAM
4 TABLESPOONS MAPLE SYRUP
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER TO TASTE
3 TABLESPOONS FRESHLY SQUEEZED LIME JUICE PEEL, HALVE, AND CORE PEARS. POACH PEARS IN WINE, SUGAR, CINNAMON, LEMON, AND BRANDY FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES OR UNTIL TENDER. ALLOW TO COOL IN SYRUP.
PEEL SQUASH AND THEN CHOP INTO 2-INCH PIECES. LIGHTLY TOSS WITH OLIVE OIL, SALT, AND PEPPER. ROAST IN PRE-HEATED 375 DEGREE F OVEN FOR 45 MINUTES OR UNTIL SQUASH IS TENDER. COOL AND RESERVE.
TO MAKE SOUP, MELT BUTTER IN LARGE POT AND SAUTE VEGETABLES, CHILI, AND THYME UNTIL VEGETABLES ARE SOFT, ABOUT 7 MINUTES. DEGLAZE WITH ¼ CUP OF CHICKEN STOCK AND COOK FOR ONE MINUTE.
ADD COOLED SQUASH AND PURÉE WITH A STICK BLENDER OR TRANSFER TO A BLENDER OR FOOD PROCESSOR AND BLEND UNTIL SMOOTH. ADD TO POT OR FOOD PROCESSOR REMAINING CHICKEN STOCK, ONE CUP OF POACHING LIQUID AND ONE PEAR. PURÉE UNTIL SMOOTH.
POUR PURÉE INTO POT AND ADD CREAM, MAPLE SYRUP, AND LIME JUICE. BRING TO BOIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT; REDUCE HEAT AND SIMMER FOR 15 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY. ADD SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE.
TO SERVE, POUR INTO BOWLS AND GARNISH WITH SLICES FROM REMAINING POACHED PEAR. OTHER OPTIONS FOR GARNISH ARE TOASTED PEPITAS OR CRUSHED CANDIED PECANS. NOTE: IF FRESH PEARS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, USE LIGHTLY SWEETENED ORGANIC CANNED PEARS. DRAIN JUICE AND POACH IN WINE, CINNAMON, LEMON, AND BRANDY LIQUID FOR FIVE MINUTES. ALLOW TO COOL IN SYRUP.

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