Chilled Indian Pear Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    6

    first-course servings

Appears in

Splendid Soups

Splendid Soups

By James Peterson

Published 2000

  • About

I’ve always appreciated the Indian habit of serving a slightly sweet and spicy dish at the beginning of a meal. The first time I had this soup was on a blistering August day; I started out with no appetite, but somehow the sweetness of the pears and the spiciness of the curry revived me, and we all ended up spending several hours eating a rather large meal.

Ingredients

  • 9 sweet ripe pears
  • 1 quart light chicken broth
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder, preferably garam masala
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream, beaten until barely stiff

Method

Rinse the pears, slice them in half lengthwise, and remove the cores with a spoon or melon bailer. There is no need to peel the pears since the peels will be strained out anyway. Slice each pear half into several pieces. Put the sliced pears in a mixing bowl with the chicken broth. (The broth covers the pears and prevents them from turning brown.)

In a 4-quart pot over medium heat, cook the onion in the butter until it softens and turns translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for about 2 minutes—until the smell starts to fill the room.

Pour in the pears and all the remaining chicken broth. Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes, until the pears are soft. If the pears are underripe, you may need to simmer them longer.

Strain the soup through a food mill with the finest disk or puree the pears in a blender or food processor and strain the soup through a medium-mesh strainer.

Chill the soup and add 1 cup heavy cream (see note). Season the soup to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Decorate each bowl with a swirl of the lightly beaten cream.

Suggestions and Variations

This soup also works with apples—in fact the idea came from an Indian hors d’oeuvre—murgh chat—made with cold chicken, potatoes, and apples spiced with curry and chopped cilantro. You can also add chopped cilantro to this soup just before chilling to accentuate the flavor of the curry.

One interesting version is cold pear soup with watercress, which chef Jeremiah Tower serves at Stars restaurant in San Francisco. Prepare the soup as directed, but leave out the curry. Take the leaves and small stems off 2 bunches of watercress and boil them for 1 minute in a pot of boiling salted water. Strain the watercress, rinse it with cold water, and combine it with a cup of the cold soup in a blender. Blend at high speed for 1 minute. Strain through a medium-mesh strainer into the remaining soup.