|beauty and the beast soup: |
celeriac, pear and bacon
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.
Skill level: Easy
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)
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
- Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic, celeriac and pear. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the stock and white wine and bring to the boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
- 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!)
- While the soup is cooling, fry the diced bacon until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
- Before blending remove the bay leaf and if using a sprig of thyme the woody stem.
- After blending, you may decide to pass the soup through a sieve for extra smoothness.
- Return the soup to a clean saucepan and bring back to a simmer.
- Add the milk and warm through.
- Check the seasoning.
- Serve with a little of the bacon scattered over each bowl.
- 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.