The past fall has been all about soups for me. Somehow, I seem to have come into my own, inventing soups without looking at a cookbook and finding that I'm finally experienced enough that I can usually predict how something will taste by the ingredients I feel like putting in.
This soup is a good example, a riff on another squash soup that I made this season. I had found two of the prettiest little butternut squashes at a local market where they were also selling d'Anjou pears. The combination just sounded right to me, so I bought both.
After halving, de-seeding and roasting the butternuts in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour, I sautéed half a large onion in a combination of butter and bacon drippings, about a tablespoon of each, then added oregano from my pot garden until the aroma of onion and fresh oregano threatened to send me into ecstasy.
Added chicken stock, the flesh from the butternuts and three peeled and cored pears - and simmered until everything was soft and giving up its flavor, about 20 minutes. Puréed in the blender, topped with a dollop of creme fraîche and a sprig of the oregano, it made a lovely first course for our New Year's Eve dinner.
Kabocha vs. butternut. Thyme vs. oregano. These small changes make for quite different soups, even though all the ingredients are from similar plant families. The kabocha-pear-thyme soup was herbal and sustaining - it tasted downright healthy. The butternut-pear-oregano soup was nearly sweet and very mellow, seeming indulgent and luxurious.
Both were just what I imagined they would taste like when I started making the soups. There's something very satisfying and liberating about feeling free to throw into the pot whatever I feel might taste good together and being pretty sure it will be a hit.