Sunday, November 14, 2010

An unusual celery and pear bisque

Fall and winter can be a little deceiving. While the sun shines bright amidst a clear blue sky, the air is actually cold and crisp (as opposed to the hot and humid air from the summer). The transition from summer to winter temperatures can be a little rough, although fall is my favorite season. When the temperatures dip below zero, I begin to fear the cold of winter (as many other Quebecers do). I dread the freezing temperatures because I do most of my trekking around town by foot/public transportation. Although the fall and winter seasons are beautiful, the cold temperatures can make it really difficult to enjoy the outdoors and get around. I have combated the cold weather these last few seasons with a few wardrobe investments. Two years ago, my mom purchased a pair of Ugg boots for me (yep, I've become one of those people) because my toes were constantly frostbitten and would take hours every morning and evening to defrost (Aldo boots, I blame you for the painful months of frostbite and inflammation!). The Ugg boots have definitely helped me out when it's –40°C outside. Now, I've invested in Sorel boots for days when it's cold but also wet outside, when the sun is melting the snow into slush, although the temperatures are still hovering around –10 or –20°C. I feel that, armored with this gear, and some essential layers on top, I should be good to go, and ready to enjoy the end of fall and the brisk winter to come.

 Indoors, I invite fall and winter because these seasons are the perfect excuse for rich soups. A bisque is definitely a fall-appropriate meal, and I was particularly intrigued by the celery and pear bisque from the November 2010 issue of Bon Appétit. The reviews on the website were mixed, many mentioning that the soup was not rich enough to be a bisque, an understandable comment considering the recipe does not call for any cream. I ventured to make it anyways because the flavor combination was just so intriguing.

There is a fair amount of prep-work for this recipe. You have to chop up a pretty large amount of celery, along with a couple pears (I used bosc pears instead of Bartlett), and some leek (I could only find trimmed leeks and therefore only had the white part of the leek to work with for this recipe).

 You also need a simple set of herbs: dried bay leaves and fresh thyme.

When all the ingredients are prepped and measured, then you can begin cooking.

The recipe calls for 4 1/2 tbspns of butter. I opted to use half that amount, along with some olive oil.

 I began by sautéeing the leeks to mellow out their flavor before adding in the other fruits and veggies. I omitted the flour because I felt it was unnecessary.

Then I added the stock (I used vegetable broth) and the herbs, and brought the soup to a boil. I covered it, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmered the soup until the celery was tender, about 20 minutes.

Finally, I puréed the soup in a blender. I made sure to do this with the lid open, covered with just a tea-towel because otherwise you could end up with an explosion of hot soup that splatters everywhere.

Overall, this recipe was not difficult, and it included ingredients that are readily available and local this time of year. My final verdict on this bisque. It is rich and creamy, even though there is no cream to be found. I think the key is the butter. Without it, I don't think it would be the same. Actually, this soup is so rich, I wouldn't eat more than a small serving at one time (which is unusual for me). The flavor and texture of the pear shines through, alongside the celery and the leek. I think adding diced fresh pear as garnish really freshens up and livens the flavor of this bisque. This is definitely a great fall recipe.

This bisque is my next submission for Magazine Mondays.


  1. Strangely enough, my husband LOVES both celery and pears even though they leave me a bit cold. He would go nuts for this soup which means I'd love to make it for him. It does look thick, and a delightful winter meal. Thanks for bringing this to this week's Magazine Mondays!

  2. This sounds like a really interesting bisque. I love the ingredients!

  3. Yes, it's snowed. Yes, this would comfort. Yes, it is on my agenda. Warm comfort.

  4. I saw this recipe and wondered about it. It seemed to be a strange combination to me and not one that my family would enjoy. I'm glad you tried it and gave it high reviews! It looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow - what an unusual combination of ingredients - I think I would really, really like this. I've bookmarked it for next autumn, since I am enjoying spring right now :-)

  6. Wow, that sounds really good, I'll have to try it!