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A&E >  Food

This aromatic butternut squash and pear soup is a nourishing salve for chilly days

Chunks of fresh pear add fruity sweetness to this butternut squash soup.  (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
Chunks of fresh pear add fruity sweetness to this butternut squash soup. (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special to the Washington Post

Warm, soothing and aromatic and centered on nourishing produce, this soup has a truly healing vibe to it. But, more than that, what draws me to it is how alluringly tasty it is.

Flavor-wise, sweet earthiness of butternut squash and sautéed onion lead the way. Those vegetables are simmered in a savory broth along with chunks of fresh pear for a layer of fruity sweetness and to counter a zing of ginger and a pleasantly bitter touch of turmeric.

Pureed until smooth, the creamy, brilliant orange-gold soup is served with a swirl of yogurt and a spray of fresh herbs. It’s one of those foods that manages to round out the sharp edges of the day. Sometimes, I’ll cradle a cup of it in the midafternoon for just that purpose.

Whether sipped for a snack or as part of a meal, it is a balm for a chilly day, fulfilling not just for your taste buds, but for your whole body.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion (about 10 ounces), chopped

1 tablespoon finely minced or grated fresh ginger

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

2 pounds butternut squash, cut into 1-inch dice (about 7 cups)

2 ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or more as needed

3 tablespoons plain yogurt (low-fat or full fat)

Water, as needed

In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the ginger and the turmeric and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the squash, pears, salt and pepper. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup, or let it cool slightly, then puree it in batches in a stand blender until smooth. Add a little water or additional broth, if needed, to thin the soup to your liking.

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt with water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until thin enough to drizzle.

Ladle the soup in bowls, drizzle with the yogurt and serve hot.

Yield: 6 servings

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