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