Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pear, Potato and Cheddar Soup in the Sukkah

Beautiful pears are popping up at the farmers’ markets and filling the produce bins in the stores. I love their varying shades of red, blush pink, yellow and green. It is truly a lovely fall fruit, delicious on its own and pairing well with other flavors, both savory and sweet.

Years ago, I found a recipe in the Seattle Times for Pear, Potato and Cheddar Soup. I loved the thought of a savory pear soup and immediately made it. Pears, Yukon gold potatoes, onions and celery are sautéed in butter, then simmered in broth. After pureeing it all into a smooth mixture, you add cream and cheese. Need I say more? This is a delightful soup and is hands down our favorite to slurp during the fall months.

Pear, Potato and Cheddar soup also makes a regular appearance in our sukkah each year. Tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Sukkot is an agricultural holiday, celebrating the harvest. Temporary structures, called sukkahs, are erected to represent the ancient temporary dwellings needed to live in while harvesting the fields. Sukkahs also symbolize the tents that Jews lived in during the forty years of wandering the desert after leaving Egypt.

Every year, we build a sukkah in our backyard using wood to create the sides, and branches cut from our bushes and trees for the roof. We string little lights, move our picnic table in, and live in the sukkah as much as possible for a week. In Seattle, that can be a challenge! Some years, we are quite bundled up while eating outside, other years we are enjoying balmy evenings and savoring the last moments of summer. I am always so thankful if the rain holds off until Sukkot is over! We’ve already had heavy rain and wind this week, but the sun is peeking out now so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. When it’s a clear night, I love to look up and see the stars peeking through the branches. Such a cozy feeling!

No matter what the weather is, Sukkot is always a fun family holiday to share with guests, and a last hurrah for eating outside before winter arrives. This creamy pear soup will warm you while snuggled in a sukkah or sitting around your dining table.

I love this plate!
"The pear is the grandfather of the apple,
its poor relation, a fallen aristocrat."

Pear, Potato and Cheddar Soup

Inspired by a recipe from the Alexis Hotel
Serves 6

4-5 medium ripe pears, cored and cut into small pieces (no need to peel)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small pieces (no need to peel)
3 ribs of celery, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine (or use extra broth)
5 cups vegetable broth
4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
Salt to taste
Croutons for serving (optional, I made some using whole grain raisin bread and they paired nicely)

In a soup pot (I use an 8 quart size), melt the butter and sauté the pears, potatoes, celery, onion and thyme until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the wine and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Slowly mix in the grated cheese, cream or half and half and salt to taste. Stir until smooth and cheese is melted. If soup is too thick, add a little more broth. Heat until warm but do not boil.

Ladle soup into cups, garnish with croutons if using, sip and enjoy!


  1. I am not Jewish and don't know much about the practices of Judaism, but when I first heard about Sukkot a couple of years ago, I thought it sounded so wonderful! What a beautiful tradition. Thanks for sharing your culture and your recipe, it looks delicious!

  2. "Fallen aristocrat"--love it! And my, oh my, how I love pears. I actually made a pear cake this week that really reminded me of clafouti.

    I also love this time of year with all the harvest festivals, which are one of those wonderful little ways we're all more alike than different. I actually hadn't heard of Sukkot before. The tradition of building a sukkah is really fabulous.

  3. What a wonderful, seasonal soup to serve for Sukkot! So happy to see your beautiful sukkah. I'm hosting a big family dinner in ours tomorrow, can't wait! :)

  4. @B
    My pleasure, B! Sukkot is definitely a favorite time of year for us. I appreciate how it keeps us attuned to the season, too.

  5. @Lauren
    Lauren, I thought you might appreciate the entire quote this comes from: "The pear is the grandfather of the apple, its poor relation, a fallen aristocrat, the man-at-arms of our domains, which once, in our humid land, lived lonely and lordly, preserving the memory of its prestige by its haughty comportment." Francois Pierre de la Varenne, French chef, 1615-1678 during age of Louis XIV

    I, too, love this season of celebrating the harvest. I've enjoyed learning about other festivals from you, as well.

  6. @The Shiksa in the Kitchen
    Thank you, Tori! Your family is in for a treat with you hosting dinner tonight. Enjoy your celebration and chag sameach!

  7. The lights and table look beautiful, and that soup looked pretty good! Love the pears and cheese combo. Hope the rain held off and you had a good celebration.

    Thank you, Lisa! So far, no rain and we're enjoying celebrating.

  9. I love hearing about all your traditions, they really are wonderful. I hope the rain stayed off. This soup sounds amazing, I love parsnip soup and thinking like parsnip the pears would impart a lovely little sweetness. Being saved to recipes to make next fall :)

  10. @Mairi
    Thank you, Mairi! The rain held off for us, so it was a beautiful week. You are right, the pear is similar to sweet parsnips (another favorite of mine). I hope you enjoy it next fall!


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