By Chef Linda
Special equipment needed: Blender or immersion blender
When winter wears you down, soup can be restorative and comforting. Butternut squash and pears make fast friends in this silky soup and fresh ginger livens up the party with its warm, spicy bite. Coconut cream, not dairy, adds to the lusciousness. Together, the taste is luxurious and rich, and the health benefits include a big boost for your immune system from vitamins C and A, lots of fiber which keep you fuller longer (not bad when we might be trying to shed some holiday gains), and plenty of antioxidants to keep your heart healthy and lower risk of infections (winter colds or flu anyone?).
To make this soup even more scrumptious, make this simple recipe for candied coconut and pepitas. Sprinkle on top for a delightfully crunchy, sweet treat.
Butternut-Pear Soup with Candied Coconut and Pepitas
1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil (or substitute your favorite oil)
1 medium onion, chopped about 1 cup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 medium butternut squash, about 2 pounds, or 4 to 5 cups peeled and chopped
3 large pears, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (or use grated fresh turmeric root)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or more depending on taste
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut cream, reserve a tablespoon to swirl in if you like
Candied Coconut and Pepitas
1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 cup raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of white pepper (or substitute a cayenne)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and salt. Cook, while stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for a few more minutes. Add squash, pears, turmeric, cinnamon, and white pepper. Cook for several minutes until the spices are aromatic then stir in broth and coconut cream. Let cook for about 20 minutes, until squash is soft. Use an immersion blender or carefully transfer soup to a blender. Partially cover the top with a towel when blending instead sealing with the blender lid so that steam can escape. Blend until creamy and smooth.
While soup is cooking, make the candied coconut and pepitas. Line a plate with a piece of parchment paper. In a dry pan over medium-high heat, toast the coconut and pepitas for several minutes until they start to turn golden brown. Watch carefully as they can go from brown to burnt very quickly. Stir in syrup, cinnamon, pepper, and salt. Cook for about 2 minutes while stirring, until the syrup is bubbling. Transfer to parchment lined plate and smooth into a thin layer. Leave it to cool and crisp up.
To serve, pour soup into bowls. Place a very small dollop of coconut cream and drag a toothpick or knife through it to create decorative swirls. Sprinkle with candied coconut and pumpkin seeds and enjoy.