Pear & Celeriac Bisque
A seductive, seasonal combination made with or without dairy.
This soup is inspired by a delectable side dish from acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson's classic cookbook, Aquavit. The combination of sweet, luscious pears with savory, hearty celeriac (celery root) yields the creamiest and dreamiest blend. While the flavors are rich and sophisticated and the texture is silken and smooth, the soup is not at all heavy. The vegetables may be sautéed in a combination of butter and oil, and the soup composed with chicken stock. A fully plant-based version would exclude butter and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; wet measuring cup; measuring spoons; Dutch oven or stockpot; small sauté pan; wooden spoon; blender or food processor; rubber spatula
2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon butter* 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 large celery root, peeled and diced
2 pears, peeled and seeded, diced
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
kosher salt and ground white pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon butter* 1 pear, peeled and seeded, finely diced ¼ cup finely diced celery root stalk
*replace butter with oil for vegan
1. Heat a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil, swirling the pan to coat the bottom. Add the butter and the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add a generous pinch of kosher salt. Stir constantly for another 5 minutes until the onion is softened and translucent, but not at all brown.
2. Add the diced pears and celeriac to the sautéed onions, plus some ground white pepper. Add the stock to the pot and mix well to combine. Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes until the celeriac is tender when pierced with a knife.
ILOC tip: if using vegetable stock, select it with care. Many vegetable stocks compensate for lacking animal fat, flavor, and color by adding an imbalance of sweet and bright vegetables like carrot and tomatoes. Read the ingredients and make sure that onions, not carrots, top the list.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the garnish. Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the butter, if using, along with the pears and finely diced celeriac root stalks and sauté until softened and the pears are slightly caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
4. If time is of no consequence, once the celeriac is tender, allow the soup to cool to warm or room temperature before pureeing in the blender.
ILOC tip: if you need to puree the soup immediately, be sure to begin blending on the lowest setting while holding the lid closed, covered with a clean dish towel to prevent the steam from pushing the lid off the pitcher.
5. Pour the soup in the blender, in two batches, if necessary. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with additional kosher salt and ground white pepper.
6. To serve, place a dollop of the garnish pears and celeriac stalks in the center of each bowl. Pour the soup in the bowls and serve immediately. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
Makes 6-8 servings.