Golden Pear Soup

pears and soup
Adapted from "Still Life With Menu"
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Fresh pears and sweet potatoes are puréed together and finished off with touches of cinnamon, white wine, and cream. This unusual soup is slightly sweet, slightly tart, and deeply soothing. It is easy to make, and it's hard to believe something that tastes this good can be be so easy.

Steps 1 through 4 can be done ahead of time, and the purée can be refrigerated for a day or two before the finishing touches are added.

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (acorn or butternut squash may be substituted.)
4 cups water
1 3-inch stick cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large ripe pears (any kind but Bosc)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/3 cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk (lowfat or soy okay)
A few dashes of ground white pepper
  1. Peel sweet potatoes (or squash), and cut into small pieces. Place in a large saucepan with water, cinnamon stick, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove the cover and let it simmer an additional 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Set aside.
  2. Peel and core the pears, and cut them into thin slices.
  3. In a heavy skillet, sauté pears in butter for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup wine, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes longer over medium heat.
  4. Using a food processor with the steel blade or a blender, purée the sweet potatoes (squash) in the cooking water together with the pears-au-jus until smooth. (You may have to do this in several batches.) Transfer to a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven.
  5. Add the cream or milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons of wine. Sprinkle in the white pepper. Heat very gently just before serving. (Don't let it boil.)
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