The Ultimate Fall Lunch: Ham & Pear Panini Wraps with Butternut Soup

We enjoyed a version of this fall-inspired lunch every day last week. By doing a few simple steps in advance, it can be made in a pinch! Hooray for soup season and warmer, hearty meals to energize us throughout these cooler months. We had a bunch of flour tortillas I wanted to use up before buying any bread, but I know these paninis would be even better on a good quality loaf of whole grain bread (remember it’s not whole grain unless the first ingredient starts with the word “whole.”) Enjoy the recipe!

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Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Apple:

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash (about 2lbs)
  • 2 gloves garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 slices good quality bacon, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, roughly chopped (preferably yellow since they are sweeter and match soup)
  • 1 apple, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 quart vegetable stock
  • A few tablespoons heavy cream
  • Nutmeg and ground pepper to taste

In advance: Split the butternut squash in half length wise, scoop and discard seeds. Brush inside with olive oil and place a garlic clove in each hole where the seeds were. Roast butternut squash face down in the oven on low heat until tender and the “meat” of the squash can be easily scooped out, about an hour. You can expedite the cooking time by roasting them at 350 for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the squash. It all depends on how much time you have! Once squash has cooled, scoop the meat out and set aside until you are ready to make the soup.

Method:

  • In a Dutch oven or soup pot, fry bacon on medium heat until crispy. Careful not to cook bacon on to high of heat or too fast as you want to render as much fat as possible to cook the rest of the vegetables in. Remove with a slotted spoon, and chop once it has cooled off.
  • Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions, peppers and apple. Turn heat to medium high. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender, the apples and onions translucent, and all are very fragrant.
  • Now add the butternut squash, stock and all but a spoonful of the bacon. Simmer for about 10 minutes then blend with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.
  • Once blended, add heavy cream and continue blending until you get a thick, almost whipped consistency.
  • Serve and garnish with bacon bits and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg and pepper.

Notes:

  • If your toddler or older baby is hesitant to try the soup, offer it with toasted bread for dipping and see if this helps.
  • For younger babies,  set some of the soup aside before adding the bacon and cream and let them have a little sample. Charlotte loved it!

 

Ham & Pear Panini Wraps with Brie

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb good quality deli ham (2-3 slices per panini)
  • 1/2 wheel Brie (lucky us scored some on super discount at Food Lion this week) sliced.
  • 1-2 tablespoons per wrap of apple butter (optional but adds a nice tang!)
  • Flour tortillas or whole grain bread

In advance:

  • On low heat, slowly cook onions until super sweet, soft and golden brown. Once onions have decreased in size a bit, add pear and cook until pears are soft and golden but still holding there shape. Set aside or store until you make the wraps.

Method:

  • It’s really just assembling now: lay tortillas or bread out assembly line style and spread with apple butter, if using.
  • On half the tortilla, lay 2-3 slices of ham, then the onion and pear mixture. Fold in half, quesadilla style.
  • Cook on panini press until cheese has melted and tortilla becomes a bit crispy, about 3 minutes.

Tips:

  • Coat knife with oil or water before cutting Brie to help with a smooth slice.
  • Don’t have a panini press? Try toasting in oven or cooking in frying pan with a spatula and melted butter like you would a grilled cheese.
  • For serving a toddler, you can cut in small pieces as a finger food or encourage them to hold it like a slice of pizza and bite, then pull.
  • This is a great way to gently introduce a little one to the deliciousness of Brie cheese 🙂

 

There are loads of variations you could do here. Another favorite of ours this time of year is turkey, apple and cheddar. Looking forward to making more of these with Thanksgiving leftovers!

Enjoy!

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