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Cooking with Spirits

Cooking with Spirits
Roasted Pear and Delicata Squash Soup with Parmesan Croutons
Ingredients: (Serves 6)
- 2 pounds delicata squash or butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 firm but ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears, cut in half lengthwise and cored
- 4 cups canned low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp Cognac (or Armagnac)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper

Parmesan Croutons:
- 2 cups 1/2-inch cubes of French or rustic white bread, crusts removed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the flesh of the squash and pears with olive oil and place, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh of the squash and pears, and put in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Discard the skins. Puree until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups of the chicken broth and continue processing until smooth. Put this mixture in a 3 1/2 to 4-quart saucepan, add the remaining chicken broth, the cream, nutmeg, and sugar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To make the croutons, place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over, add the Parmesan, and toss the bread cubes until thoroughly coated. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasty brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.When ready to serve, ladle the soup into a warmed soup tureen or individual soup bowls, garnish with the croutons, and serve immediately.

Cook's Note:
The soup can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool and refrigerate, covered; rewarm just before serving. The croutons can be made 2 days in advance. Store in a covered container at room temperature. (Recipe/Photo courtesy of USA Pears)


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