Sweet, earthy, and aromatic with an amazingly smooth texture, this Cauliflower, Pear, and Fennel Soup makes an elegant first course, with the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. It was an ideal Christmas Day starter to our holiday meal, but would be wonderful served anytime.
It is chock full of veggies, and if you use homemade chicken broth it will elevate the flavor profile even more. The lone parsnip and single ripe pear, along with the bottled pear juice add just the right amount of sweetness, while a squeeze of fresh lemon and a tad of finishing salt brighten the flavors.
Cauliflower, Pear and Fennel Soup exhibits the maturity of understatement, with the intelligence of communal flavors. For more convenience, you could purée and refrigerate it a couple of days ahead; then add the cream and seasonings after gently reheating it.
Happy slurping, er I mean sipping….
Cauliflower, Pear and Fennel Soup
- 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
- 3 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 3 cups), rinsed well
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup pear juice
- 7 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 1 small head cauliflower (about 1-1/2 lb.), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
- 1 large ripe pear, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon; more for garnish
- 1/2 cup heavy cream; more for garnish
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks, fennel, parsnip, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the pear juice, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a syrup, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower, pear, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
- Turn the heat down to medium low, partially cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft, about 40 minutes. Stir in the tarragon.
- Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth and transfer to a large bowl.
- Return the soup to the pot, stir in the cream, and reheat. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve topped with a thin swirl of cream and a sprinkle of tarragon.
By Arlene Jacobs from Fine Cooking