Bon Appétit (November 2010)
We kicked off our Thanksgiving dinner (well, after the snacks and Autumn Harvest Jello Shots), with this Celery and Pear Bisque.
When each of us was growing up, soup was never a part of the Thanksgiving menu. Maybe it's because we were both raised in the South, or maybe it's just coincidence, but soup was never part of the Turkey Day equation for either one of us.
But we've become Thanksgiving soup converts. We think it's a great way to kick of the meal. It's a lovely, warm, comforting way to start Thanksgiving dinner, and -- perhaps even more importantly -- it's a great way to start feeding your guests while you put the final touches on the rest of the dishes!
We were drawn to this Celery and Pear Bisque mostly because it was a respite in a sea of squash and pumpkin soups. We like squash soups and pumpkin soups as much as the next guys, but this bisque sounded like an inventive, refreshing way to start a Thanksgiving meal.
And it is! It's a fresh, delicious way to get things started! The celery and pear flavors play very well together, and it's an extremely tasty soup all around. Perhaps it lacked a little of the wow-factor of the Scarlet Carrot Soup we made last year, but this Celery and Pear Bisque is a sure-fire winner.
We did make one major change to this recipe, though. When we tasted the soup after reheating it, it seemed...thin. Not just in texture, but in flavor, too. The tastes were very good but very...two-dimensional.
So we added some cream. The soup was begging for it!
We didn't add a lot -- just a 1/2 cup to the completed recipe. Plus, it's a bisque -- we were really surprised the recipe didn't include cream.
The little bit of cream made all the difference in the world. The flavors became rich and deep, and the soup itself turned from a pleasant enough broth into a gorgeously sumptuous bisque. We served small servings -- maybe about 1/2 cup of soup per guest -- which was just the right amount to whet everyone's appetite for the feast to come.
All in all, a splendid way to start things off for Thanksgiving!
PREP: 30 minutes
TOTAL: 50 minutes
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
6 cups thinly sliced celery with leaves (preferably organic; about 12 stalks) plus chopped leaves (for garnish)
18 ounces unpeeled ripe Bartlett pears, cored, diced (generous 3 cups) plus 1/2 cup finely diced (for garnish)
1 1/2 cups chopped dark green leek tops
3 small Turkish bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
*see our note above about adding 1/2 cup cream
Melt butter in pot over medium-high heat. Add sliced celery, generous 3 cups diced pears, leek tops, bay leaves, and thyme. Cover; cook until celery softens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Toss in flour. Stir in 3 cups broth; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until celery is tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove bay leaves from soup. Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return puree to same pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if desired. Rewarm briefly.
Divide soup among bowls; garnish with 1/2 cup finely diced pear and celery leaves.