Friday, November 6, 2009

Cream of Walnut Soup with poached Pear Puree

Mmm Mmm Good. Dessert soup is something I never really gave much thought to. Soup is my favorite thing by far but I don't think I've ever had a dessert soup.. If I ever had, it wasn't memorable. Making this soup reminded me of happy Christmas memories. I don't really know why.. maybe a partridge in a Pear tree... Maybe because I sometimes receive boxes of Harry & David pears as Christmas gifts. Maybe it was the scent of the vanilla bean and seeds infusing with the cream and walnuts that smelled like christmas cookie baking, or the scent of the pears poaching, sort of reminiscent of mulled cider. In any case, I was in a merry mood while preparing this dish. Maybe it was the wine! :)

Relatively speaking this is a very easy dish to make. First you make some poaching liquid with white wine, water, sugar and some lemon juice -- And guess what? you have to skim! Skimming aside, how could those ingredients be bad? You peel, core and cut a pear and poach it in some of the liquid until just done.

Meanwhile you pour a heart attack inducing amount of heavy cream into a pan with .. get this 1/4 cup milk! LOL! I mean why bother with the milk? (Sorry couldn't resist.) You add to the pan some toasted (skins removed - it's harder than it sounds because they are so crinkly) chopped walnuts, the scraped seeds from a piece of vanilla bean and the pod after scraping. It looks like my countertop! >.<

The wonderful supportive spouse gets extra kudos for finding the best vanilla beans I've ever procured. They were stored in a glass tube and so not at all dried out and very easy to work with.

Your walnut cream mixture simmers along getting all infused with flavor and making you think happy thoughts. Oddly enough skimming is not mentioned in this recipe so I left it alone, although I might have developed a skimming addiction, because I sure wanted to! After the flavors are all infused you strain the walnut cream mixture. Discard the walnuts and vanilla pod.

Back to the pears: they are sittting in the blender with a small amount of poaching liquid ready to be pureed. Once that's done, add the hot cream to the blender carefully (I did it in batches) because hot liquids expand --- and mix it all together! Pear puree shown below.

This is a VERY rich soup, made for small servings, garnish each serving with a drop of walnut oil and serve. Wish I had some pretty shot glasses to use. Ramekins will have to do for now.

The flavors were subtle yet very comforting, the pears held their own (in a refreshing way) quite well against the richness of the cream very slight bitterness of the walnuts. I loved it!
Hopefully I'll have some shrimp canapes up next.

See you soon.

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