Pear Parsnip Pistachio Soup. Say that 3 times fast! If you or your progeny are of a certain vintage, the title of this soup may bring back memories of a certain Sesame Street Fairy Tale called The King Banishes the Letter P, featuring King Peter The Persnickety.
I just adore the shape and all the gorgeous colour variations of fall pears. However, for eating out of hand, pears just don’t set my pulse racing like a crisp Sweetango apple. But when cooked, the flesh of pears becomes silky and velvety. That’s what I wanted to capture in this soup.I decided to combine the pears with parsnips. The earthy tangy quality of the parsnips would provide the perfect balance for the sweetness of the pears. Looking for inspiration, I stumbled across a recipe for a Pear Parsnip soup with a very odd list of disparate ingredients that included wine, milk, pistachios and a chile pepper. But then I saw that the recipe was from Stephanie Izard’s (Top Chef winner Season 4) cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen. Long a fan of Stephanie’s big bold flavours, I knew I had to try this soup.
I baked some pear chips to accompany the soup, because I like a little crunch with a pureed soup. They couldn’t be simpler to make. Slice firm pears very thinly on a mandolin. Or, if your knife skills are excellent and you can slice very thinly and evenly with a sharp knife, go for it! No need to peel or core the pears. Lay them flat, in a single layer (do not overlap) on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 200°F for 45 minutes. Turn the pears over and bake for another 30-45 minutes until they are curled up at the edges and golden brown. They will still be a bit pliable at this point but will harden upon cooling. The pear chips will keep for a week, in an airtight container. You could sprinkle a bit of salt or cinnamon on them before baking, but I just left mine plain. They make such a pretty garnish for the soup. Sometimes pureed root vegetable soups can taste a little bit flat, and you aren’t really sure what vegetables you’re tasting. I wanted both the pears and the parsnip flavours to shine through. This soup delivered in spades. The chile flakes quietly announce themselves with a gentle heat that does not smack you over the head. The wine provides much needed acidity and the milk contributes a mellow gentle background note. Salty pistachios add texture and a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet pears.
Click here to print recipe for Pear Parsnip and Pistachio Soup.