beauty and the beast: celeriac and pear soup with bacon

beauty and the beast soup:
celeriac, pear and bacon
I have always liked a good fairytale and Beauty and the Beast was always one of my favourites, particularly illustrated by Anne Anderson. I thought the name was a perfect description for a celeriac, pear and bacon soup that contains, as I have mentioned before, one of the ugliest of all vegetables (the grotesque celeriac). Beauty and the Beast perfectly describes a soup where the flavours marry beautifully even if it isn't that pretty.

Celeriac has both an intensely celery flavour, with a hint of smokiness and goes beautifully with tangy sweet pears. It is often combined with apple, but I have hundreds of windfall pears. It turned out they worked with celeriac in this soup very well as their tart sweetness compliments celeriac's sweet earthy tones. A beautiful match.
Having cooked the celeriac, it has lost some of its ugliness, not exactly beautiful (I am taking a few liberties here). But where is the beast in the soup? Well the beast is the piggy bits of course - the crisp salty bacon sprinkled over the soup just before serving.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

ingredients:
50g butter
1 x medium English onion, finely chopped
1-2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 x medium celeriac (about 750g to 1kg), peeled and roughly chopped
4 x ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped
1 litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
250ml milk
100ml white wine (optional)
1 x bay leaf
1 x sprig of fresh thyme (or half tsp dried thyme)
2 x smoked bacon rashers, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper

directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the garlic, celeriac and pear. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock and white wine and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Set aside and leave to cool before blending. (Do not try to blend when hot, as this can be dangerous, particularly if using a jug blender. A combination of hot soup, a build-up of steam and vibration, can cause the hot liquid to explode out of the blender. Safer to let it cool a little!)
  6. While the soup is cooling, fry the diced bacon until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
  7. Before blending remove the bay leaf and if using a sprig of thyme the woody stem.
  8. After blending, you may decide to pass the soup through a sieve for extra smoothness.
  9. Return the soup to a clean saucepan and bring back to a simmer.
  10. Add the milk and warm through.
  11. Check the seasoning.
  12. Serve with a little of the bacon scattered over each bowl.

tips:

  • Replace the pear with chopped apple, for a tart but sweet contrast.
  • Top with a little sliced celery for added crunch.
  • Replace the celeriac with a head of celery, chopped and a medium potato, to add a little bulk to the soup.
  • Add blue cheese - a case of gilding the lily! I like to use most blue cheeses in soup, such as Wensleydale, Stichelton, Gorgonzola or Roquefort. I particularly like using a blue Brie or Cambozola as I particularly like the way the rind turns into a sort of cheese "toffee" through heating. It is not to everyone's taste!
  • This soup can be served chilled, with a swirl of cream.
  • Replace the white wine, with white port for extra sumptuousness.

7 comments:

  1. You made me laugh out loud there ! I never thought of celeriac being grotesque or ugly before. Now, thanks to you, I'll never look at it as a great smelling, grand tasting and versatile vegetable ever again. ;)
    I use it an awful lot, but your soup will now be on the menu soon and probably often. I love contrasting flavours so pears bacon AND celeriac together - yumyum - looks like the taste buds are going to do a charleston on my tongue. :)

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  2. man alive YES!!!!!... what a soup!

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  3. This sounds seriously good - will try it this weekend and report back!

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  4. I made this for our lunch today and it was superb!

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  5. Soup made, tasted and enjoyed - a really great seasonal dish! I have posted some pictures of the soup on my blog
    Brunch at Goodies

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  6. I made this again yesterday and made PLENTY so we enjoyed it for lunch today as well.

    Bliss in a bowl!

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  7. You've all made my day again!

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