Cauliflower Pear Soup... with toasted walnuts and chives(Gluten, Dairy Free). Sometimes the simplest of ingredients make a delicious and healthy meal. I've been wanting to make a cauliflower and pear soup for quite some time now. I loved the idea of combining cauliflower with pear. And as much as I don't make pureed soups very often, I like to introduce them in our meals from time to time... especially so during the fall season.
I love butternut squash or pumpkin soups. They're the type of soup that's quite comforting on a cold day, and with a side of toasted cheese sandwich, well, it really makes for a nice fall meal. This time around though, I wanted to step aside from the usual pumpkin soups and make the cauliflower pear soup that's been on my mind. The cauliflower soup can be made with all sorts of variations, including mixing in some gorgonzola, or adding a bit of curry paste and finishing off with some coconut milk...or if you like, a bit of heavy cream. While the variations all sound delicious, I chose to go the simpler and healthier option. Decided to skip all form of dairy and made it gluten-free.... this meant no cream or croutons.
As with most pureed foods, the silky smooth texture is essential for making a luxurious mouth feel. At the same time, I like to add another textural element to the smoothness of the soup, which is usually done by introducing some sort of "crunch". Normally croutons work really well, as would crispy chips of sorts, be it tortilla or vegetables crisps. But since I wanted to go a bit healthier, I chose to reserve a few of the cooked vegetables pieces from the soup and added some toasted walnuts instead. The toasted walnuts brought the extra crunch the soup needed, along with additional flavor.
You can easily top the soup with other healthy alternatives, be it by simply roasting some cauliflower florets seasoned with a bit of spice... or even some baked thin pear slices that have been made into chips. While I finished off the soup with a drizzle of olive oil, other flavored oils could be added instead. Walnut oil would be super nice.
The soup is simple to make and quite budget friendly... can easily feed 6 people. The nice part is that while it is a homey type of soup, it can easily be served at any elegant dinner gathering... and it really wouldn't be out of place. The soup can double up as an amuse bouche or even served as a first course. I'm thinking it would be a great little starter for Thanksgiving. In any case, if you like to make a different sort of soup, you might try this version, adjusting spices and toppings to preference if you like. Hope you enjoy...
Note: You can easily adjust the consistency of the soup by adding more or less chicken stock, until you reach desired thickness.
Tip: You can substitute butter or oil of choice for the coconut oil... You can opt to skip the potato if you like. An Asian pear can easily be substituted for the regular pear. And while I haven't tried it yet, an apple instead of pear could work just as well. Feel free to add a bit of garlic along with the onion... even a shallot or leek will work.
Opt to use fresh thyme instead of the dried, and include a bay leaf, if you like. Other herbs could work, such as tarragon, sage, etc... Celery, fennel, carrots can be added to make a variation off the basic soup... Stirring in a bit of cashew cream would be lovely. Be creative and make the soup your own...
You will need:
3 TBS coconut oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 large pear, peeled and diced
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
1 tsp dried thyme
6 cups homemade chicken stock, or as needed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt, to taste
Toppings/Mix-ins of choice: just some ideas, but you can be quite creative.
toasted walnuts, chopped
drizzle of olive oil(can try other oils, such as walnut oil)
freshly cracked pepper
even hot sauce( my husband's addition:))
a bit of acidity in the form of (sherry vinegar, lime, lemon juice)
gorgonzola cheese/parmesan/goat cheese
cream or half and half
roasted cauliflower florets seasoned with smoked paprika
1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add the sliced onion and cook until they are soft, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Add the diced potato and pear stirring to thoroughly coat them with the oil and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Season with a bit of salt, being careful not to add too much in case your stock is on the saltier side.
4. Add the cauliflower and thyme and cook stirring frequently until lightly browned in areas, about 5-7 minutes. You want a bit of caramelization to occur, so you get some flavor.
5. Add the chicken stock. Season with a bit of salt.
6. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the ingredients are very tender, about 25-30 minutes. At this point you can reserve a few pieces of cauliflower, potato, and pear for garnish later on.
7. Puree the soup until it’s silky smooth.... using a Vitamix (what I used), regular blender, or even an immersion blender. If using a blender you will need to blend in batches( be very careful as the soup is hot, place a towel over lid) and then return the soup to pot. You can thin soup with more chicken stock if you like.
8. Season to taste with salt. Garnish with reserved vegetables, chives, toasted walnuts, freshly cracked pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil... or oil of choice.