Two weeks ago, it felt more like fall than it does now. In San Francisco, the last week has been full of perfect sundress weather. Finally. I know everyone else in the northern hemisphere is sick of heat and waiting for the weather to change, but I’ll take the heat when I can get it. If you see blinding flashes of light from the Bay Area, that’s just me revealing my albino skin.
This pear soup is perfect for the in-between weather. It’s light and bright with a strong pear flavor, but also full of savory fall flavors like sage, nutmeg, and thyme. It can easily be made vegetarian, but garnishing with bacon adds salt and texture, while the gorgonzola contrasts nicely with the sweet pear. I like that it’s relatively healthy (kids might like it, minus the gorgonzola, since it has a distinct sweet flavor) and uses fairly inexpensive ingredients.
If I were hosting Thanksgiving this year (last year I hosted 14, and this year I’m taking a break!), I would serve this as an appetizer in “soup shots,” as pictured above. It’s the perfect way to whet your guests’ appetites.
Savory Pear Soup with Bacon and Gorgonzola
Adapted from Five & Spice; makes 4-6 standard-sized bowls
Note: If you make this vegetarian, swap the bacon fat for olive oil, chicken broth for vegetable, and consider garnishing with a fried, salted sage leaf and gorgonzola/bleu cheese instead.
- 5 ounces bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (around 1/2 inch)
- 1 medium carrot, diced (for color – I used a small carrot and my soup was more of a golden color)
- 1 tablespoon honey (use up to a half tbsp more, if your pears aren’t ripe)
- 5 pears — peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cups mildly flavored vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2-3/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream (I used sour cream)
- crumbled fresh gorgonzola/bleu cheese for serving
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot, fry the bacon bits until crispy. Remove from pot and drain.
- Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pot and add in the butter. When melted, stir in the onion, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, “sweating” the onion until it’s soft but not brown. (At this point, my onion browned slightly due to the bacon residue at the bottom of the pot. No big deal, as long as it doesn’t burn!)
- Stir in the garlic, potato, and carrot, cover again. Turn the heat to medium and cook another 5-10 minutes, taking care not to burn or brown the ingredients. Then, add in the honey, pear, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, thyme, sage and nutmeg. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes to coat the pear with the other ingredients.
- Add in the broth, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes and pears are soft, about 15 minutes.
- Blend — an immersion blender is perfect for this step. Otherwise, transfer soup to a blender in batches until smooth. Then return the blended soup to the pot and stir in the creme fraiche, starting with a 1/2 cup and adding up to 1/4 more to rearch desired creaminess. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with bacon (or fried sage leaves) and gorgonzola. Serve hot or warm.