I’m Alive (Barely!) and Butternut Squash & Pear Soup

Phew! I just finished my first quarter of Grad school and I feel lucky to be alive. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, it was just more time-consuming than I ever could have imagined. The past three months have given me a whole new perspective of the phrase “trying to keep my head above water.” Needless to say, I have reverted back to the old college diet for the last few months. You may be familiar with it if you gained the “Freshman 15” when you were in college. It consists mainly of Pop Tarts, frozen pizzas, and take-out. It is disgusting, and I am looking forward to getting back on track during my holiday break.

Speaking of holidays, I have been charged with making a few sides for Thanksgiving that I will share with you in the next week or so. I’ll be making cranberry sauce, glazed carrots, burssels sprouts (don’t hate!), and stuffing. Some people think it is a sin to make stuffing from a box, but I think Stovetop rocks and I’ll share a few ideas for sprucing it up a bit.

In addition to all of the holiday classics, I love seasonal food this time of year. It is so comforting, warm, and hearty. My favorite fall/holiday food is squash. I love all types of squash–acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, you name it. If it’s a squash, I want to roast it and eat it. I especially want to toast the seeds. We are all familiar with toasting pumpkin seeds at Halloween, right? Well, you can toast any squash seeds the same way you toast pumpkin seeds. Just toss them in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast them on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees. Do this with the butternut squash seeds from the recipe below and garnish the soup or enjoy them as a snack.

I love making soup during the colder months for a few reasons. First, it’s easy. Second, it’s cheap. Soup is a great way to stretch your grocery budget, especially around the holidays when everyone is strapped for cash. I particularly love this soup because the squash makes for a ticker, bisque-like consistency, which definitely fills you up more than a broth based soup. And finally, because you can get a few meals out of very little ingredients.

Butternut Squash & Bartlett Pear Soup
Recipe from Vegetarian Times
Issue: November 1, 2009 
Serves 6

The toasted seeds are key to taking this soup from good to fantastic!

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts finely chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (save the seeds for toasting!)
  • 3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (you can substitute about 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, maybe a little less)

Directions

  • Heat oil in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks, and cook 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring often.
  • Add squash and pears, and sauté 5 minutes.
  • Stir in vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in coconut milk. Purée soup in batches in food processor or use immersion blender in saucepan; blend until smooth.
  • Return soup to saucepan, and stir in thyme. Reheat over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve garnished with toasted butternut squash seeds, if desired.
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