French Fridays with Dorie: Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

We’ve been having perfect soup weather, and there’s nothing that makes my house happier than a big pot of soup. Having such a treasure in the fridge makes our week go more smoothly, having something delicious and nutritious to bring for lunch everyday.

For French Fridays with Dorie, the recipe this week was just that. Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup had autumn all over its name. I’m always trying different winter squash soup recipes. I haven’t quite found that perfect go-to recipe. Really, I think the success of each batch depends on the squash itself, and the flavor of the squash can be wildly inconsistent. I was excited to try this one to see how it stood up to other recipes.

My husband Howard doesn’t eat fruit in his food. He just eats fruit as fruit. And, while he likes apples, Howard does not care for pears. So, I was a little furtive about the reason for pears in the grocery bag.

I roasted the halved butternut and buttercup squash. I peeled and chopped the cooked squash and lined it up on the counter next to bowls of chopped onions and scallions, fennel and garlic, and the spice mix of cumin, ginger, and nutmeg. The pears just patiently sat on the counter. Then I started to cook the soup. I didn’t want to chop the pears because I didn’t want them to brown while they waited for their turn to go into the pot. This whole time, I was alone in the kitchen.

As the soup simmered, I started to peel and chop those pears. Wouldn’t you know this was the moment that Howard decided to come see what I was up to. The conversation went sort of like this:

Howard: What are those pears for?
Betsy: (silence)
H: Those aren’t going in to the soup, are they?
B: (guilty look) You weren’t supposed to see them.
H: I can’t believe you you’re going to poison me.
B: You aren’t even going to taste them.
H: I’ll know they’re there.
B: No, you won’t.
H: (sigh) Poisoner, poisoner.

At this point, he left the room, and I added the pears to the pot. So much for being sneaky.

Once all the ingredients are tender, the mixture is pureed in the blender where it transforms into a smooth, golden soup. Mine was thick, and I opted not to thin it down with additional water or broth, but you could.

I ended up with a HUGE container of a wonderful soup that has lasted all week. The squash itself might have been bland, but the fennel added depth beyond the usual onions, and the spices added a nice warmth. Those pears were the secret weapon. I couldn’t taste a distinct pear flavor, just an extra sweetness. I think adding some fruit might be the solution to earlier failed squash soup recipes with potential.

Did Howard eat the soup? He grumbled a little bit, and insists he can taste the pears, but he took it for lunch every day (he’s in charge of making the lunches we bring to work). He did admit that it was a good soup. I’ll call that a success.

As a side note, last week, I tried Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup (page 78) because I had happened on red kuri squash at one of the last Farmer’s Markets of the season. If you haven’t tried that one (which I think is somewhat ingredient-dependent), it was also a winner.

I’m looking forward to reading about what my fellow FFwD bloggers thought about this week’s recipe. Check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Maybe you’ll even want to cook along with us on Fridays. It’s a great group, and you’d be quite welcome.


Posted on 11 November 2011, in Autumn, Farmers Market, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Well you had better success than I did! My husband only tried a spoonful and declared he didn’t like the flavors. I really enjoyed this one and will freeze some for those cold days when I’m craving something comforting for lunch! Your soup looks wonderful! Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Oh, what a great post, Betsy! I can just picture you and Howard in the kitchen. He will die before he admits he loves that soup! ;) I’m going to look for the red kuri squash (never tried that one) and make that recipe as well. It is perfect soup weather here. I hope you have a great weekend!

  3. So funny. I totally hide ingredients all the time in my cooking. You have to do what you have to do, right?
    Have a super weekend!

  4. Too funny. My husband also stuck his nose up at the pears initially, but then I think he forgot about them by the time I had actually made the soup (luckily for me, he wasn’t even home when I made this one). In the end he liked the soup, and it certainly sounds as if your husband did as well, so I think we can both call it a winner.

  5. Your soup looks and sounds great! Mine is simmering on the stove as I write this. I probably won’t get a post up today, but at least I’ll have the soup!

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed the soup and had plenty of leftovers!

  7. My husband asked why I was laughing and I read out your conversation with Howard and he cracked up laughing as well! Mainly cos he can totally relate to Howard! Fruit should be eaten as fruit! Funny how after all that they loved it!

  8. LOL!!! I think maybe he just didnt want to admit that he was wrong… well, at least he liked it!!

  9. LOL, I’m glad I wasn’t the only sneaky one! It does sound like your hubby enjoyed it after all…despite that he thought you were poisoning him :)

  10. It was fab soup – I couldn’t taste the pears. I enjoyed it thick too. Amazing how people can have a psychological block against certain foods – but glad in this case that Howard relented a bit.

  11. What a funny recount of your cooking experience, I really enjoyed reading this! I too have to be sneaky when it comes to slightly unusual recipes, but in my case, it’s my kids rather than husband I have to appease…they’re very inquisitive and can be picky eaters :).

  12. I am reading abut so many people with picky husbands! Well at least he ate it!!

  13. hahaha. great post! my husband always catches me when i try to sneak things past him too. i don’t think i ever would’ve tasted the pears in the soup if i didn’t know they were there! i’m glad you enjoyed the soup

  14. The dialogoue between you and your husband made me laugh – and I really needed to laugh this morning! Looks like a fantastic soup, and can’t wait to read the other posts you have today!

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