Roasted butternut squash and pear bisque

Makes 6 cups – 6 servings

Winter squash are harvested at summer’s end and remain available throughout the winter. Butternut is a popular sweet-tasting variety that harbors beta carotene in its rich orange flesh.

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 peeled and coarsely chopped Bartlett pears
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (prepare using concentrate, powder, or cubes)
½ cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Toasted chopped walnuts for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise; discard the seeds. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool the squash, then remove the pulp (about 2 cups).

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pear and onion; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the curry powder; stir constantly for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the squash pulp and the vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

In several batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.

Return the soup to the pan. Stir in add the half-and-half, cognac, salt, and pepper. Warm, stirring constantly, over medium heat. (Do not let the soup come to a boil.) Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Garnish the servings with walnuts.