- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 whole nutmeg, halved
- 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 dried chipotle chiles
- 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and pale green parts, rinsed and finely chopped
- 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
- 1 cup drained canned or jarred chestnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 8 cups water
- Balsamic-Caramelized Pears
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or safflower oil
- 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Sea salt
Serves 6 to 8
Put the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, lemongrass, cardamom pods, ginger, and chipotle peppers in cheesecloth. Knot securely or tie with string and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the squash, chestnuts, sage, cheesecloth pouch, and water. The water should cover the squash by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender and falls apart, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
To make the caramelized pears, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the pears and sauté for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pears are soft and the liquid becomes syrupy and coats the pears. Set aside to cool.
To finish the soup, remove the cheesecloth pouch and discard. Add the maple syrup and salt to taste. Transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth, or process the soup in the pot with an immersion blender. If the soup seems too thick, add a bit more water.
To serve, gently reheat the soup, taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with the caramelized pears, and serve warm.
Reprinted with permission from Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant. Copyright © 2011 by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: Rita Maas.