by Andrea Doyle | November 4, 2014

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW), the largest restaurant week in the nation, has started and runs through Sunday, Nov. 16. Organized by Valley Table magazine, there are more than 200 restaurants and businesses promoting New York's Hudson Valley as a culinary destination.

The two-week HVRW dining deals are spread out across 114 miles and seven counties: Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Columbia (with select Connecticut restaurants participating as well). The restaurants offer three-course dinners for $29.95 and lunches for $20.95.

Many of the participating restaurants have private rooms for groups. Included are American Bounty, Ristorante Caterina de' Medici, and Bocuse Restaurant, all three student-staffed restaurants at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, a popular site for meetings and events.

Other participating restaurants that are good for groups include the following: 42 The Restaurant, Billy Joes Ribworks, Char Steakhouse, Clock Tower Grill, Cosimo's, El Solar Café, Giulio's Restaurant, Half Moon, Harvest on Hudson, Hudson House River Inn, Lakeview House Restaurant, Limoncello at Orange Inn, Mill House Brewing Company, Peekskill Brewery, Poughkeepsie Ice House, Shadows on Hudson, SWIFT Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, Riverview Restaurant, Terrace Club, Tavern at Diamond Mills, The Greens at Copake, Valley Restaurant at the Garrison, Via Vanti, and X20 Xaviar's on Hudson.

At an event kicking off this year's HVRW, the Mill House Brewing Company's roasted butternut squash soup with candied pecans and pomegranate molasses was a big hit. Here is that recipe.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Candied Pecans and Pomegranate Molasses
(Serves 8-10)

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (approx. 1")
3 ea. parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 ea. vidalia onion, peeled and diced
2 ea. garlic cloves, minced
4 ea. sprigs of thyme
1 qt. vegetable stock or water
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
Method: Sweat butternut squash, parsnips, vidalia onion, garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook until onions are translucent (5 to 7 minutes on medium heat).

Pour in vegetable stock and heavy cream along with 4 sprigs of thyme. Cook until butternut squash and parsnips are fork tender; liquid should reduce by one-third (approximately 8 to 12 minutes on medium heat).

Remove from heat once vegetables are tender; season with maple syrup, salt, and white pepper.
Puree in blender until smooth and velvety.