Celery pear bisque

A celery pear bisque to calm the winter storms.

Kitchen Report
Celery pear bisque has just a hint of sweetness.

The first words I heard one morning this week were “… 2 inches of snow followed by sleet followed by freezing rain.”

A wintry mix. Again. We are only one boot into January and we’ve already been walloped with two blizzards and now rainwater is flooding icy sidewalks and curbsides of Boston. But I haven’t succumbed to the winter blues – yet. I mean, at least the weather outside is interesting even if it has been a bit frightful lately. Commuting to work has come to mean hiking through driving winds wearing snowpants and ski goggles. But it's pretty in a snowy kind of way. Last week we had sugar-frosted trees before a deep freeze turned them to ice. For a few days the sledding hill launched thrill-seekers over 20 m.p.h.

In the pause between storms my friend Jessica came over for a lunch that I loaded with winter greens. We had celery pear bisque and a warm Swiss chard salad dressed in a bacon vinaigrette with candied pecans and dried cranberries topped with a poached egg. I’ve been craving greens since the holiday rush ended. Our photo editor here at the Monitor suggested I try making this bisque.

I'm glad I did. The sweetness of the pear is a surprise taste at the end. Somehow it offers a gentleness in contrast to the confusing edge of snow, ice, and sleet swirling outside and the colors add warmth to the cool palette of winter. And an added bonus: no leftover celery to go limp in the crisper.

Celery pear bisque
This could easily be served chilled as a summer soup. This recipe is based on a version that first appeared in Bon Appetit.

Serves 6

4 1/2 tablespoons butter
6 cups thinly sliced celery with leaves, chopped leaves for garnish
2-3 unpeeled ripe, Bartlett pears, cored, diced (about 3 cups), 1/2 cup for garnish
1-1/2 cups dark green leek tops, chopped
3 small Turkish bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth, more to taste

Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add celery, pears, leek tops, bay leaves, and thyme. Cover; cook until celery softens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add flour and combine.

Stir in 3 cups of the chicken broth; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until celery is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaves. Pureé soup in batches in blender until smooth. I like to pass soups through a fine mesh strainer to catch the skins, but this isn’t necessary. Return to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the soup is thicker than you like, thin with additional broth. Heat through.

Divide soup among bowls and garnish with diced pear and celery leaves.

Kendra Nordin blogs at Kitchen Report.

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