Monday, November 22, 2010

The Crown Jewel Affair: Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

The Crown Jewel Affair continues with this fourth post in a series recapping our POM Wonderful Dinner Party.  If you missed the Introduction, Ginger Pomegranate Martini, or Nut Crusted Fried Brie with Pomegranate Jalapeno Jelly, I hope you'll go back and take a peek at those posts.

When planning the menu, I couldn't decide between soup or salad. Ultimately, I decided on a small tasting of each.

Butternut Squash Soup screams Autumn and Thanksgiving to me, so I set out perusing recipes. When I found the one below, with Bosc pears, leeks, white wine and brandy, I knew I had a winner. Incorporation of pomegranates into this dish was simply a sprinkling of fresh arils, but what an impact in flavor, texture and color!  Just a few pomegranate seeds provided the right burst of tartness, which cut a little of the sweetness of the soup, and they looked so vibrant floating amongst the pepitas and swirls of creme fraiche. In this case, a simple touch added so much to this soup.

Butternut Squash, Bosc Pears, Carrots, Leeks

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Slightly adapted from The Daily Green
Recipe courtesy of Waldy Malouf, chef/co-owner, Beacon Restaurant & Bar, New York City
(Serves 10 as a small starter)


1-2 butternut squash (about 4 pounds total), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
2 Bosc pears, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup brandy
7 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low-sodium if canned)
1 large sprig fresh thyme plus additional leaves for garnish
1-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and grated
1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, for garnish
Pomegranate arils (seeds), for garnish
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the squash and carrots on a baking pan large enough to hold them in one layer, and toss with the oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, then add the leeks and pears. Toss to combine and continue to roast for another 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and browned.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour the wine and brandy over the top, using a wooden spoon to scrape the vegetables and their caramelized juices from the bottom of the baking pan. Transfer the vegetables and liquid to a large soup pot. Pour in the broth, adding additional water if necessary to cover the vegetables by 1 inch. Add the thyme sprig and grated gingerroot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.

Remove the thyme sprig and puree the soup in batches, in a blender or food processor. Transfer the soup to a fine to medium mesh sieve set over another pot. Use a rubber spatula to press the solids through the sieve. If the soup seems too thick, thin it with a little water. Season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, warm the soup over low heat. Serve in warmed bowls, drizzled with crème fraîche or sour cream, if desired, and garnished with crystallized ginger, pomegranate arils, pepitas, and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.

Mini 4-ounce Lions Head Bowls from Crate and Barrel
The perfect size for this starter soup

Alec & Nina

Larger serving, in a shallow bowl, if you are serving as a main course, with a small salad


Carmen said...

No fair! You can't go wrong with pomegranate, pepitas and butternut squash!

Pammy said...

This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The soup was perfect on it's' own, but the little garnishments took it beyond amazing. Besides being pretty, each bite held a surprise celebration of it's own...snap-tart of a pomegranate aril, nut-crunch of a pepita, mmmmm crème fraîche and savory thyme. Mouth party!

Anonymous said...

beautiful presentation! If you don't mind my asking, what is the white stuff smeared on the plates in the picture where you're pouring the soup?


Denise said...


Thank you. We just made this soup again last evening for a cocktail party we catered. The "smear" is goat cheese on the salad plate for the Roasted Beet Salad: