This slightly more elaborate and finely prepared white wine soup with pears and bread croutons is a welcome variety in the season of pumpkin soups and showcases the range of seasonal ingredients. It’s worth the effort, as the soup is a perfect starter for a festive menu, combining the fruity sweetness of pears with the finesse of white wine and the rustic accents of bread croutons to create a truly indulgent experience.
If you are preparing a multi-course menu for guests, soups are always great because you can prepare them the day before without any time pressure.
If you shouldn’t have much time, don’t worry: we’ll also suggest a few shortcuts.
Firstly, we prepare our vegetable base. To do this, we place a large pot on the cooker and gradually sweat the washed, peeled and chopped soup vegetables in a little olive oil.
Start with the hardest vegetables and add everything you have cut bit by bit, so you can use the time you need to chop everything to sauté and develop light roasting flavours.
Today we used carrots, leeks, half a celeriac, a few parsnips and some celery stalks. However, you can use whatever you like, almost all root vegetables are suitable, for example parsley roots or onions in addition to the ones mentioned.
Once the diced vegetables are lightly sautéed, pour in water and leave the broth to simmer for about half an hour to three quarters of an hour. The longer you give the broth time, the more flavourful it will become.
Shortcut: Instead of this homemade broth, you can also use about 1.5 litres of good, ready-made vegetable stock. In this case, start with step 2, making the “roux”.
A roux is a mixture of butter and flour that serves as a base for sauces and other dishes in French cuisine. This mixture is cooked to form a thick paste that acts as a binding agent. The history of roux goes back a long way. Its versatility and ability to thicken and bind sauces have made it a fundamental technique in the culinary world, not only in French cuisine but also in many other cuisines around the world, including Japanese curries.
There are different types, which are classified according to the degree of browned butter and the resulting colour: white roux, blond roux and brown roux. With white roux, the butter and flour are only heated long enough to just combine, which is necessary to prevent the dish from tasting of flour. This roux has a bright colour and is often used for light sauces such as béchamel.
The blonde roux that we are using today is cooked a little longer until it turns lightly golden. This roux might be used in French cuisine for veloutém for example.
We leave the brown roux, with a nutty brown butter, for dark, deep sauces.
Half of the butter is melted in a small pan and chopped onion is sautéed in it over a medium heat until translucent. Then we add flour and stir the roux with a whisk until small bubbles form and the butter and flour combine to create a smooth mixture.
When the roux is golden, i.e. before the butter turns brown, slowly pour the white wine into the pan and continue stirring with the whisk. Then let the mixture simmer briefly to allow the alcohol to reduce.
While this mixture and the stock are simmering, prepare the bread croutons. Patiently roast finely diced slices of toast, crust removed, in a pan with the remaining butter over a medium heat until they are golden brown and crispy. For the perfect croutons, you can add a lightly crushed clove of garlic and a few sprigs of thyme to the pan, which you remove at the end.
The pear is peeled, diced and poached with a little white wine until the pieces are soft but not falling apart. The pear gives the soup a fruity flavour and a pleasant texture. We put the bread croutons and pears to the side and only add them to the finished soup when serving.
At this point, we used muscle power and a tablespoon to pass the softened vegetable pieces through a fine sieve back into the stock. This gives the soup a luxurious, velvety consistency.
A little laborious, but worth it for a festive meal because it deals with any fibrous components. Alternatively, you could remove the boiled vegetables and thicken the soup with the roux alone.
Whip cream for a particularly foamy consistency before adding it to the soup.
Another shortcut: you may also add the liquid cream.
Now mix the strained vegetable soup – or, in the case of the shortcut, the vegetable stock – with the white wine roux, finely chopped chives and whipped cream. Only add about two thirds of the cream and stir very gently. It will then harmonise wonderfully with the fruity pear flavour and the wine.
Finally, season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the white wine soup in deep, warmed plates, garnished with a tablespoon of the remaining whipped cream, the crispy bread croutons and diced pears on top. Your guests will be delighted with this culinary journey through autumn.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (for 4 people):
1 tbsp olive oil
800 g or more of root vegetables, preferably with carrots and parsnips for a sweet flavour
(alternatively: 1.5 litres of good vegetable stock)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
400 ml flavoured, dry white wine
4 slices of toast for the croutons
1 clove of garlic and a few sprigs of thyme
1 ripe pear, peeled and diced
½ bunch of chives, finely chopped
200 ml cream
Salt and pepper to taste