This is a hearty, creamy soup that’s great in late summer or early fall, when fresh corn is available. The stock takes a while, but the leftovers make an amazing sweet corn risotto. Alternately, you can use canned veggie stock or chicken broth, but there’s something magical that happens when you make your own stock. Make this on a Sunday afternoon, when you have plenty of time to cook. Serves about 6-8 people, and makes great leftovers.
- 4 ears of fresh corn
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 Bosc pears
- 1 tbsp butter or vegan margarine
- 1/2 package (about 3 sprigs) fresh tarragon
- 1 lb silken tofu
- 1/2 cup plain soymilk (or whole milk/cream, if no soy milk on hand)
- salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
- chili-infused olive oil (or plain olive oil and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
To make stock: Peel the corn and use a large knife to cut the corn kernels off the cob into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside kernels and put cobs in a large stock pot. Peel and seed butternut squash and put squash peelings in pot. Peel and core pears and add peelings and cores to the pot. Add tarragon and fill the pot about 2/3 full with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, bring heat down to medium low and simmer for about 2 hours, until stock is a bit yellow (think camomile tea) with a strong scent of corn and tarragon. Strain stock through cheesecloth and reserve. This will make about a gallon or so of stock, so it’s best to store some of it in the freezer for later use. You’ll need about a cup or so for the soup.
To make soup: Preheat oven to 375 Farenheit. Arrange squash and pears on a baking sheet and drizzle with chili oil (if you don’t have chili oil, olive oil or peanut oil works well also; if you can find it, I LOVE using sunflower oil to roast squash. If you use an unflavored oil, however, you’ll want to add some red pepper flakes to the soup.) Put in oven and bake for 1 hour, until squash is soft and it looks like the bottom is coated with maple syrup.
Meanwhile, melt butter in the pot you used to make the stock and add onions and corn. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are a bit translucent. Add squash/pear mixture. Pureé tofu and roasted pears and squash in a food processor or blender with 1 cup of corn stock and add to the pot along with soy milk/cream. Stir to completely incorporate and add salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer for about 1/2 hour on low heat, and serve in smallish bowls with bits of crusty bread.