Pear soup with blue cheese & pancetta
Healthy and comforting soup
I love soup in January for a number of reasons. The weather is cool (or at least coolish here in Southern California) and a good warm soup is just what is needed to soothe and nourish. If prepared properly, soup can make for an incredibly healthy meal and just the antidote for getting back on track after my annual Thanksgiving to New Year's series of overindulgences.
Creamed vegetable soups without the cream
Soup is a great way to crank up your vegetable consumption. I love to transform a bunch of vegetables into a smooth and creamy soup -- without the use of any cream. See my post on How to make cream-less pureed vegetable soups. The options are endless once you get the technique down.
This recipe is from Fiveandspice
When I ran across this recipe a few years ago on Food52 I was instantly intrigued. Pears, blue cheese and pancetta sounded like a delicious cheese board. Reading the recipe I was nearly certain it would be amazing and I wasn't disappointed. You definitely know you are eating pear soup, but it is more savory than sweet and the garnish of blue cheese and pancetta really brings all the flavors together. I have made a few small adjustments, but this recipe is the creation of Emily Kuross, a nutritionist, PhD in Food Policy, and food blogger at Fiveandspice. I hope you give this one a try!
About the pears
I have used both Bosc and Bartlett pears for this soup. They both work very well. If you don't have really ripe pears, I recommend using Bosc pears as they work well even if they are a little firm.
About pureeing the soup
I like my pureed vegetable soups silky smooth, so I always puree in a blender. Alternatively you can puree in a food processor or use an immersion blender. Both work well, but will not be quite as smooth as the consistency you get from a blender. Remember to only fill the blender two thirds full, put the lid on your securely and literally lean on it while blending to prevent it from popping off while processing or this can happen.
Gluten-free and adaptable for dairy-free, vegetarians and vegans
The great thing about this soup is just about everyone can eat it. I do not use the butter called for in the original recipe to make it dairy-free for the dairy-free members of our family; just skip the blue cheese. If you are feeding vegetarians or vegans you can make the soup with olive oil or butter and skip the pancetta. This soup is gluten-free. Emily's original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of creme fraiche to be stirred in after the soup is pureed. I am sure the creme fraiche would be good, but I find the soup delicious without it.
Cook once and eat twice -- I encourage you to double the recipe
I always double the recipe so I can cook once and eat twice. This soup freezes well so there is no reason not to make a big batch. I'll warn you though, even a double batch rarely sees it to my freezer. With a little luck we have a small portion or two to enjoy the next day.
- 5 ounces of thick cut pancetta, cut into ½" cubes
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ pound Yukon potatoes or other waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½" cubes
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
- 5 Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
- ½ t fresh thyme, chopped
- ½ t fresh sage, chopped
- ¼ t freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 T maple syrup
- 3 - 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 t kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot such as a Dutch-oven on medium high. Add the chopped pancetta and cook until crispy. Remove pancetta from the pot and drain on a paper-towel covered plate. Set aside.
- Drain all but a tablespoon or two of the residual oil from the pancetta from the pot. Add the onions and saute over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until they are soft, stirring frequently so they do not burn.
- Add the garlic, potatoes, carrot and apple to the onions and stir to combine. Cook for 10 more minutes.
- Add pears, herbs, maple syrup and salt and stir to combine. Add 3 cups stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes, apples and pears can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Working in batches, fill your blender to about two thirds and puree the soup. If pureed soup is too thick for your liking add a little more stock. I usually use about 4 cups. You can also use an immersion stick or a food processor to blend the soup. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve in bowls or mugs garnished with a sprinkling of pancetta and blue cheese.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH