Weeknight Cooking

Pear Soup with Pancetta and Blue Cheese

by:
November  7, 2011

Pear Soup with Pancetta and Blue Cheese

- Jenny

So often Jenny, who speaks of herself in the third person from time to time, instructs all of you to make a certain dish, but maybe only if you have ingredient X laying around, or you have a hankering for protein Y.

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Now, what I am telling you, is to race to the farmer’s market, buy some pears, then go home, tell your family and friends not to bother you or get in your way in any form during the roughly 40 minutes it takes to put together one of the most delicious things you’re going to eat this fall. (Unless they are offering to peel pears.)

I can’t quite remember how I came across Pear Soup with Pancetta and Blue Cheese, but I believe it was during a search for something to double for the neighbors. That involved a fair amount of the aforementioned pear peeling, but my husband agreed to do so, as long as I allowed him to play Johnny Cash while he did it.

Get that pancetta going. Someone is going to ask me if you can skip that to make this dish vegetarian. You can. But that little boost your onions will get from sautéing in that bit of fat is really good. Put the rest of your vegetables in there, and later, your stock, which hopefully is homemade. (I made mine with chicken necks during that freak October snowstorm, and it was indeed mildly flavored.)

Have you noticed how all your simmering steps are just a few minutes each? You love that right?

While the stock has this soup take form, make a salad, or send someone out for nice crusty bread. I pureed it all up with my immersion blender, which is truly the greatest kitchen invention ever -- except for parchment paper, whisks, and maybe the zester that guy made in his garage. Top with the best blue cheese you can find. 

This soup has all the elements of a late fall dinner: it is creamy, warming, tastes of fruit but is not fruity, and bats it smoky eyes as a tangy finish on the spoon.

Plan to eat it all week.

Pear Soup with Pancetta and Blue Cheese by fiveandspice

Serves 4 - 6

5 ounces pancetta, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon butter

1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, sliced

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (around 1/2 inch)

1 medium-small carrot, cut into small cubes

1 tablespoon maple syrup

5 pears - I used bartlett - peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

3 cups mildly flavored vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 cup creme fraiche

crumbled blue cheese (a creamy, potent raw milk one is best for serving

salt and ground white pepper to taste

  1. In a large soup pot, fry the pancetta bits until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and put on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

  2. Pour off all but one Tablespoon of the fat in the pot (you don't want to use all of it because then it will overpower the pear), and add in the butter. Heat over medium until foaming. Then, stir in the onion, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft. You basically want the onion to sweat and soften without browning.

  3. Stir in the garlic, potato, and carrot, cover again. Turn the heat to medium and cook another 10 minutes. Then, add in the maple syrup, pear, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, thyme, sage and nutmeg. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes to get the pear all coated with the syrup and other flavors.

  4. 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.

  5. Blend in batches until smooth. Then return the blended soup to the pot and stir in the creme fraiche. Taste and add salt and white pepper to taste.

  6. Serve with the pancetta bits and blue cheese for sprinkling on top.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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30 Comments

waterbabyandrea November 19, 2011
Wow, love this soup, it's amazing!!!!
 
Ivan S. November 14, 2011
This soup sounds wonderful, except for the pancetta. Has anyone tried this without it? The vegetarians among us are curious.
 
fiveandspice November 15, 2011
I think it would be different, but tasty! And, you could add toasted, salted pumpkin seeds in addition to the bleu cheese or something to take the place of the pancetta bits.
 
Ivan S. November 14, 2011
This soup sounds wonderful, except for the pancetta. Has anyone tried this without it? The vegetarians among us are curious.
 
aimeebama November 13, 2011
Husband was skeptical but he made it anyway at my begging. Delicious and fancy tasting.
 
gt9 November 13, 2011
One comment was OMG! This is devine. Made just as Jenny prescribed. Used a local Minnesota made blue cheese. Thanks to all , Jenny and fiveandspice. Was a wonderful fall Sunday night supper with a salad and a great baguette.
 
bvrlybest November 13, 2011
I had 5 pears I had bought at the FM for a tart but made a cake instead. Sitting on my counter were 5 perfect pears then I saw this recipe. I had one vegetarian so made w/out pancetta fat in the onions and I used 2 cups boxed veg broth and 1 cup water. The soup was not overly sweet and the pancetta and blue cheese really kicked it up a notch. Excellent recipe, Thanks.
 
mcs3000 November 12, 2011
Made it last night - love it. Thinking about adding it to the Thanksgiving menu.
 
babs1652 November 9, 2011
When I announced we were having Pear Soup for supper, I was met with a chorus of moaning (and not the good kind of moaning either). I served it over a layer of shredded chicken and there was not a drop left. It was such a lovely combination of flavours. Perfect fall soup, not "fruity" at all. I even got a "when can you serve this again?" Thanks for a new family favourite.
 
babs1652 November 9, 2011
When I announced we were having Pear Soup for supper, I was met with a chorus of moaning (and not the good kind of moaning either). I served it over a layer of shredded chicken and there was not a drop left. It was such a lovely combination of flavours. Perfect fall soup, not "fruity" at all. I even got a "when can you serve this again?" Thanks for a new family favourite.
 
babs1652 November 9, 2011
When I announced we were having Pear Soup for supper, I was met with a chorus of moaning (and not the good kind of moaning either). I served it over a layer of shredded chicken and there was not a drop left. It was such a lovely combination of flavours. Perfect fall soup, not "fruity" at all. I even got a "when can you serve this again?" Thanks for a new family favourite.
 
babs1652 November 9, 2011
When I announced we were having Pear Soup for supper, I was met with a chorus of moaning (and not the good kind of moaning either). I served it over a layer of shredded chicken and there was not a drop left. It was such a lovely combination of flavours. Perfect fall soup, not "fruity" at all. I even got a "when can you serve this again?" Thanks for a new family favourite.
 
babs1652 November 9, 2011
When I announced we were having Pear Soup for supper, I was met with a chorus of moaning (and not the good kind of moaning either). I served it over a layer of shredded chicken and there was not a drop left. It was such a lovely combination of flavours. Perfect fall soup, not "fruity" at all. I even got a "when can you serve this again?" Thanks for a new family favourite.
 
mklug November 8, 2011
Is it just me, or does Jenny's description of the soup in that last part sound like a really good date as well?
 
Blissful B. November 8, 2011
Five & Spice never steers us wrong. How did I miss this recipe? Printing it now!
 
TheWimpyVegetarian November 8, 2011
This time of year, I make soup at least 3 times a week. I've made this soup 3 times now, and just love, love, love it!! So glad to see it in the spotlight this week. Great recipe by 5&S!
 
jenniebgood November 8, 2011
Jenny -Per your suggestion, I am going to run (not walk) to my local farm stand for some pears after work today! -Thank you for highlighting what should definitely be a winner in some future F52 contest!
 
jenniebgood November 8, 2011
Jenny -Per your suggestion, I am going to run (not walk) to my local farm stand for some pears after work today! -Thank you for highlighting what should definitely be a winner in some future F52 contest!
 
Author Comment
Jestei November 8, 2011
I can't seem to respond to comments so I am leaving a global one here. First, thank you all for commenting. It really lifts my day when I am scrolling through the super committee bill to take time to see my pals here. Second, I hope anyone with doubts tries this soup it is NOT fruity it is hearty and divine. You DO have to like pears but they become this gentle note here.
 
Author Comment
Jestei November 8, 2011
I hope you post how it turns out!
 
gt9 November 7, 2011
Okay Jenny in the third person. You got Greg convinced. Pear soup this weekend. <br />As always, thanks for the inspiration and a great read.