This hot soup is sweet and rich, mostly thanks to creamy pears, which are balanced by earthy leeks and brightened with a spicy hit of ginger. Although it's pretty simple, you can see that we're leaving juxtaposition behind and moving into a more profound melding of flavors in the dishes. So you'll want a more acidic palette of flavors in the dishes surrounding this one. When you're at the store, remember the rule for fruit: If pears don't smell like anything, they won't taste like anything. — Vegetarian Dinner Parties
Make the soup up to 2 days in advance. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Add a little extra broth to thin it out and warm over medium heat before serving.
To garnish, grind black pepper and sprinkle minced parsley leaves over each bowl.
The pears should be so ripe that if you bite into one, the juice will run down your chin. If they're firmer, you'll need to cook them longer in step 1, up to 30 minutes. Test repeatedly to see when you can mash them into a pulp.
To ripen pears, place them in a brown paper bag, seal, and set on the counter for 1 to 2 days.
Mash the pears but don't purée them. You want some texture in the final dish.
Reprinted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough. Copyright (c) 2014 by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large leek (white and pale green part only), halved lengthwise, carefully washed, and thinly sliced
- 3 Pounds very ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
- ¾ Cup dry white wine, such as chardonnay
- 5 Cups vegetable broth
- 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 Teaspoon salt
Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over low heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the pears and cook until quite soft, about 15 minutes, stirring very often.
Use the back of a wooden spoon to mash the pears against the side of the pan. Stir in the wine. Cook, stirring often, until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the broth and ginger. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly until thickened and creamy, about 30 minutes. Stir in the salt before serving.