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November 5, 2013

Squash and Chestnut Soup with Caramelized Pears

Candle 79 Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda

  • Chestnuts and caramelized pears make this squash soup a perfect choice to launch the holiday season. Rita Maas

Serves 6 to 8


1 cinnamon stick
1 whole nutmeg, halved
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
2 cardamom pods
1 one-inch (2.5cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 dried chipotle chilis
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white and pale green parts, rinsed and finely chopped
3 pounds (1350g) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes
1 cup (225g) drained canned or jarred chestnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
8 cups (1800ml) water

Balsamic-caramelized pears

1 tablespoon grapeseed or safflower oil
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and diced
3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, lemongrass, cardamom pods, ginger, and chipotle peppers in a share of cheesecloth. Knot the square securely or tie it with string, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the squash, chestnuts, sage, cheesecloth pouch, and water. The water should cover the squash by about 2 inches (5cm). Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender and falls apart, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

To make the caramelized pears, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the pears and sauté for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and stir in 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and the cinnamon, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes, until the pears are soft and the liquid becomes syrupy and coats the pears. Set aside to cool.

To finish the soup, remove the cheesecloth pouch and discard. Add the remaining maple syrup and salt to taste. Transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth, or process the soup in the pot with an immersion blender. If the soup seems too thick, add a bit more water.

To serve, gently reheat the soup, taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with the caramelized pears, and serve warm.

(Reprinted with permission from Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda [Ten Speed Press, © 2011].)


All figures are per serving (assumes 6 servings).

Calories: 337
Fat: 12 g 
Carbs: 58 g
Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 3 g
Sodium: 209 mg