The chilly months are coming to a close (finally), but I’m sneaking in one more soup recipe because I can! This bizarre pairing (pearing?!) make a slightly sweet, soul-warming vegetarian soup for those days when the sun peeks through the clouds and reminds you that spring is still, in fact, coming.
This vegetarian soup recipe takes a little time but is remarkably easy for the complex flavor. Add chicken, cashews, or pine nuts for a little extra protein. Make it yours!
Fun fact: The inspiration for this recipe (AKA the original recipe that I lost a decade ago) comes from the mother of a member of Chicago band Bible of the Devil (check them out–they’re awesome). In other words, we should call this one Metal Mom Soup!
Broccoli Pear Soup
A lighter, slightly-sweet twist on the classic broccoli cheddar recipe.
Check out the end of the recipe for a vegan-friendly and lactose free variation!
5 cups broccoli, florets and tender stems
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion
1 ripe pear
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
1/4 cup plain cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 medium-sized gold potatoes, cut into 1" cubes (about 1.5 cups)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an equally large bowl of ice water. Cut broccoli into bite sized pieces, then submerge into the boiling water. Cook for 30 seconds, then strain out the broccoli and submerge in the ice water. Drain after a few minutes.
This is the "blanch and shock" process. It preserves the color and fresh flavor of the broccoli during the extended cooking process.
Heat the butter in a large pot (you can use the same one from the step above). Peel and dice the pear and onion, then sauté over medium heat until both the pear and onion start to caramelize (about 10 minutes).
Add the stock and slowly bring to a simmer, then add half of the shocked, drained broccoli. Return to a simmer.
Slowly stir in cream cheese in small chunks, then add parmesan a little at a time. Keep the soup moving so that the dairy doesn't settle at the bottom of the pot and burn.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is a uniform texture and a bright, light green color.
If you don't have an immersion blender, you can let the soup cool and process in a blender or food processor before returning it to the pot.
Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Return to a very slow simmer and allow the soup to cook for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
About five minutes before serving, add the rest of the shocked and drained broccoli to the soup. Return to a slow simmer one more time.
Serve with freshly ground black pepper, sour cream, or chopped fresh chives.
Vegan friendly version:
1. Sauté onion and pear with plant based butter or vegetable oil.
2. Omit all cheese in favor of an extra gold potato. Dice this potato small and add it when you add the broth. Let simmer for 20 minutes so that it can be pureed with the rest of the soup for texture.