(Julia Dagum / Sun Staff Writer)

October 15, 2015

Fall Recipes to Get Cozy With: Butternut Pear Soup and Rosemary Shortbread

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If the contrast of orange leaves and gray sky has you craving cozy fall meals, you’re not alone. It seems that produce sections and farmers’ markets are brimming with squashes and root vegetables of all varieties, and that pumpkin spice lattes have reached their annual peak in popularity. The seasonal excitement brings with it an excuse to cook up those homemade meals you’re missing from Fall break.

I tried out two recipes from Erin Gleason’s The Forest Feast cookbook, which contains a beautifully photographed array of simple vegetable dishes that are also great for entertaining. Butternut pear soup and rosemary shortbread make for wonderful components of a dinner that will warm you up on these crisp nights.

To make the butternut pear soup (slightly adapted from original recipe):

Cut one butternut squash, three ripe pears and one large onion into cubes.
Roast in olive oil and salt at 375˚ F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until very tender.
Purée with four cups vegetable broth, ½ tsp. curry powder, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground ginger and ½ tsp. nutmeg.
Simmer on the stove for 10 minutes.
Garnish each bowl with popcorn and cilantro, if desired.

This recipe serves six, and is a surprisingly interesting combination of savory and somewhat sweet, compared to the squash soup you might have expected. The onions caramelize and give the soup a deep roasted flavor, which goes well with the spices, while the popcorn and cilantro add textures and freshness.

The original recipe calls for an additional ½ cup of Greek yogurt to be stirred in before simmering. This adds tanginess and richness, but I prefer to leave it out. Depending on the size of your squash and pears, the ratios will be pretty different. Try blending everything in batches until you reach a desired consistency and flavor. I’d love to experiment with adding chickpeas or cashews to the soup for another texture. I also think it could work well as a pasta sauce.

Rosemary shortbread, another autumn favorite, makes a great dessert to pair with this meal!

Recipe for rosemary shortbread:

Cut one butternut squash, three ripe pears and one large onion into cubes.
In a food processor, pulse together 1/3 cup sugar, one cup all-purpose flour, two tsp. chopped fresh rosemary and one stick of butter (cold and cut into chunks).
Press into a nine-inch round pie tin.
Bake at 325˚F for 30 minutes or until golden on the edges.
Cool five minutes before cutting.

For its simplicity and relative quickness, this recipe is quite impressive. I remember eating shortbread cookies for the holidays when I was younger and always thinking they were so fancy and difficult to make. People seem to have a fear of making anything with the word “bread” in it! This recipe, however, is very easy to make and provides almost instant gratification.

This recipe can also be altered, depending on the flavoring you want. Rosemary is delicious, but I have replaced it with lavender, hibiscus and cinnamon for different flavors. Adding chocolate chips or nuts could also be a great touch.

These recipes offer a simple way to take advantage of fall’s bounty of fruits and vegetables. I can’t wait to use the pumpkin pie on my counter to make something else exciting and seasonal!