Curried Squash and Pear Soup

1 butternut squash (about 2 3/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped peeled Bartlett pear (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 1/3 cups water
1 cup pear nectar
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans vegetable broth*
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 small Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 375?.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 375? for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Peel squash; mash pulp. Set aside 3 1/2 cups pulp, reserving remaining squash for another use.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped pear and onion; saut? 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add squash pulp, water, and next 5 ingredients (water through pepper). Bring to a boil; partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes.

Place one-third of squash mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pur?ed mixture into a large bowl; repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture.

Return squash mixture to pan; stir in half-and-half. Cook over low heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with pear slices.

Serves 8 (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)