That butternut squash and pear soup recipe? Joan McNamara delivers

Joan’s on Third’s butternut squash and pear soup
Joan’s on Third’s butternut squash and pear soup.
(Beatrice de Gea / Los Angeles Times)

A picture, so the cliché goes, is worth a thousand words. In this case, most of them came in angry emails.

When we chose a photograph to illustrate my story on different ways to cook winter squash, we were just looking for a pretty picture of a dish that used butternut squash.

We didn’t expect that so many people would fall so deeply in love with the idea of butternut squash and pear soup. Of course, we should have, since the picture is from Joan’s on Third, the beloved L.A. institution run by Joan McNamara.

That’s easy to say in retrospect, after having spent the weekend reading irate emails from readers chewing us out for having teased such a beautiful dish without having provided a recipe.


“Nowhere in the Saturday section or online could I find the recipe, or even an indication of which method of cooking the squash was preferable for this dish,” one of the emails says. “This was frustrating for me as well as a sign of poor coordination between print and online versions of the paper.”

Guilty on all counts. Fortunately, McNamara is more forgiving. She was happy to share the recipe, which, indeed, looks like it will be as delicious as it is beautiful.


Makes: 12 cups


Note: This recipe was not tested in the Times Test Kitchen.

5 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1/2 cup olive oil

14 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound onions, diced

1/2 cup fresh sage

3 pounds pears, peeled, halved and cored

7 cups vegetable broth


Salt and pepper to taste

1. Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil to coat well and spread it out on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes.

2. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sage and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the cooked squash, pears and vegetable broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pears are tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and cool. Then puree until smooth in a blender. The soup can often times be thick, in which case add more vegetable stock. It should be creamy, but not thick enough to resemble baby food.

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