Cauliflower and Pear Soup

By • September 11, 2011 • 37 Comments

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Author Notes: Around the holidays, my mom often serves soup and sandwiches for a low-key meal the night before she’s serving a larger, more labor-intensive one. I’ve taken this tradition to heart. Not only is soup comforting for traveling guests, it’s also a welcome dish for the cook because it can be prepared in advance.

Inspired by a side dish of cauliflower with pears, sage, and hazelnuts from Andrew Carmellini’s Urban Italian, I took these same flavors and turned them into a fall soup. This soup is all about building layers of flavor -- you start with leeks and shallot, then lightly brown the cauliflower, potato, and pear with sage and thyme before adding chicken stock for a lazy simmer on the stove. You then puree the soup until it’s silky and smooth. I considered finishing the soup with cream or milk but decided it’s lovely without it.

The pear is definitely the secret weapon here -- it adds a subtle sweetness and marries perfectly with the other flavors. A prosciutto panini or simple grilled cheese sandwich makes a perfect accompaniment. Fear not making this soup for the self-avowed cauliflower haters in your family -- it's sure to win them over.
EmilyC

Food52 Review: Pear and Sherry vinegar are the star ingredients of this comforting autumn soup, adding a crucial hint of sweetness and complexity to what could otherwise be a fairly bland standby. Creamy and light, it fairly calls out improvisational touches, so feel free to play around by adding a crumble of Stilton, a scattering of crisp fried sage leaves, or a dollop of wasabi. - KukharkaKukharka

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, green leaves and trunk removed, florets chopped
  • 2 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 5 leaves fresh sage (or about 2 tsp chopped)
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken stock
  • kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 tsp sherry vinegar, or to taste (champagne vinegar also works well)
  • 2 T finely chopped chives, for serving
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leek and shallot, and cook until they are soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower, potato, pear, sage, and thyme, stirring to thoroughly coat them with the oil and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently, another 8 to 10 minutes. You're aiming for a little caramelization around the edges for depth of flavor.
  3. Add 5 cups chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower heat to just maintain the simmer, and cook until all of the ingredients are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. With an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup until it’s smooth. If using a blender, you may need to do this step in batches, then return to pot. You're looking for a smooth, velvety texture, so take your time to blend thoroughly. Thin with more chicken stock, if needed, until you reach desired consistency.
  5. Season to taste with vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls, garnished with chives.
Jump to Comments (37)

Comments (37) Questions (0)

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Xmas

10 months ago zestandzeal

I am so in love with cauliflower right now. This sounds delightfully seasonal!

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about 1 year ago JanetFL

Love, love, love your recipes! Making this soup this week...but not telling my husband that cauliflower has a starring role!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks so much Janet for the kind note -- really appreciate it! I commented further down that my husband wasn't wild about the idea (I made the mistake of actually telling him it was a cauliflower soup) but he liked it! A big grilled cheese on the side doesn't hurt! : )

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about 1 year ago JanetFL

I just looked at your comment, Emily - and the grilled cheese is a great idea!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

This grilled cheese by mrslarkin is my favorite and would be fantastic with this soup! http://food52.com/recipes...

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Making this tonight! ;o)

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Oh good! Let me know how it turns out!

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about 2 years ago Amandadp

Ooh la la! This is fantastic! I will definitely make this again!

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about 2 years ago EmilyC

Just now seeing your comment -- I'm happy you tried and liked it! Thanks for reporting back!

Me

about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I love how this sounds!! Saved!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks ChezSuzanne -- I'd love to know if you try it!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

I think I just drooled on my keyboard. Can't wait to try this.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Ms. T! Leftovers have kept me happy all week.

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

Cauliflower and pears sound like a remarkable combination; it's still 85 degrees here in New York but temperature is supposed to drop by this weekend, and this will be lunch! Thanks for posting.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks wssmom! Here's to hoping you get some cooler weather this weekend!

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about 3 years ago GiGi26

I am looking forward to trying your recipe!! It's turning cool here in Michigan so it just might be on the menu later this week!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks GiGi26! It's cooler here in Virginia, too, and this was our first soup of the season. I hope you try it later this week, and if you do, please report back!

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about 3 years ago GiGi26

It's a FAMILY HIT!! My husband was very sceptical about the combination but loved the results! Granddaughters said it was the best soup ever....high praise from a 12 and 13 year old.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Your comment made me smile! I'm thrilled you all liked it. Thanks for reporting back!

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about 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Wow! I love this - it's just the kind of thing I like. Cant wait to try!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks healthierkitchen! Let me know if you try it!

Buddhacat

about 3 years ago SKK

Wonderful!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much SKK!

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about 3 years ago Midge

Love it. Pears and cauliflower sound like a brilliant combination.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Midge! You know, I thought pear and cauliflower sounded a little odd at first, but was totally won over when I tried them together.

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about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Wow! This is so creative and utterly dreamy sounding!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much fiveandspice! Having made the Urban Italian cauliflower and pear dish before, I knew the flavors would work -- but even I was delighted at how well it turned out! Even better when you have a toasty sandwich to dip into it! : )

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about 3 years ago Bevi

I love layered soups like these. It sounds perfect for the upcoming cooler days.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, Bevi! I agree with you on layered soups. Even the simple step of seasoning as you build each layer of flavor (instead of adding all the seasoning at the end) makes a big difference in the final taste.

Cakes

about 3 years ago Bevi

Soup is simmering.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Oh good -- let me know how it turns out!

Cakes

about 3 years ago Bevi

Delicious! It's hot here today but supposed to have a cold spell coming in, so I wanted to have this ready and waiting. I did not have champagne vinegar, but I added 1t. white wine vinegar, 1t. sherry and 2t. pear brandy. It is hardy yet delicate. I melted some cheese on top - figuring pears, potatoes, and cauliflower all love cheese. Seasoning to taste is the key here because there is so much that can be done according to cook's preference. Thanks so much. Have you frozen this soup with success?

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Hi Bevi -- Thanks so much for reporting back! I'm glad you like it! The melted cheese on top sounds great. (I've had grilled cheese with my soup for two meals this week!) And I completely agree on the seasoning...I kept adding a little salt, a little vinegar, and all of a sudden the flavors just popped. The acid is key. Even though I haven't tried, I think this soup would freeze beautifully, especially since there's no dairy in it.

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about 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

This soup recipe may (may...:)) make me a cauliflower fan yet!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

My husband's not a cauliflower fan either, so he wasn't exactly thrilled when I announced we were having this soup for dinner. But upon his first bite, he paused and said..."this is really good." He ate it all. So definitely give it a whirl! : )

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, sdebrango! I'm looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This sounds wonderful and a great light and comforting meal. Perfect.