Winter Squash, Pear and Preserved Ginger Soup

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The preserved ginger provides a subtle ginger flavor.   Extra preserved ginger is a great addition to hot tea.
Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of whole winter squash – you will need 6 cups of cooked squash
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 firm pears, peeled cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup preserved ginger (recipe below)
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 ½ cups half and half or cream
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • crème fraiche (optional garnish)

Preserved ginger

  • ½ cup ginger, peeled and julienne sliced
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 ¾ cup water (divided)

 To prepare the winter squash -  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Halve and seed the squash.     Remove the seeds from the squash.   

Line a baking pan with 2-inch sides with foil.   Place the squash, cut side down, on the prepared pan.  Pour enough warm water into the pan to cover the squash by 1½ inches.     Place in the oven and roast until a knife easily comes out of squash when pierced.      Depending on the size of the squash, this will take 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes.   If the squash are large, you may need to use two pans.

Remove the squash from oven.  When cool, scoop out the squash flesh.   Set-aside until ready to use.   The squash can be prepared several days ahead and refrigerated or frozen.

To prepare the preserved ginger

Place 4 cups of the water in a medium pot.   Bring to a boil.   Place the julienne ginger in a small strainer, small enough to fit into the pot of water (if needed, you can use a large pot and more water).     Place the strainer, with the ginger in it, in the boiling water.   Blanch for 1 minute.   Remove and rinse the ginger under cold water.     Place the strainer with the ginger in the water again for 1 minute.   Rinse in cold water.   The blanching removes any bitterness from the ginger

Combine the remaining ¾ cup water with ¾ cup sugar.    Place in a small pot and simmer on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.   Add the blanched ginger and simmer for 30 minutes.    Remove from the heat and cool in the syrup.     Place the syrup and ginger in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is pureed.  (if you like, keep a few pieces of the ginger for garnish on the finished soup).   Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.   Can be kept for several weeks in the refrigerator.

To prepare the soup

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot.   When melted, add the onion.   Sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.   Add the flour and stir.   Cook for a minute or two.    Add the squash, pear, stock and half and half or cream.    Stir to combine.   Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Add ½ cup of the ginger puree, the nutmeg, salt and white pepper.  Stir to combine.

Remove from heat and puree the soup.   This can be done in batches in a food processor or directly in the pot with an immersion blender.

If soup is too thick, add a little more stock or half and half/cream until you get the soup to the consistency you want.    Garnish with a few pieces of remaining preserved ginger or a dollop of crème fraiche.

 

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