This creamless soup combines one of our favorite overlooked vegetables with pears and shallots to create a light starter that’s delicate and complex-tasting.
What to buy: This is not the time to pull out bland celery commonplace in most supermarkets. Instead, look for fresh, green, unblemished celery and you’ll be rewarded with a nicely flavored soup.
- 1In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter until foaming. Add olive oil, shallots, and pear, season well with salt and ground white pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.
- 2Add celery and thyme, season with more salt and pepper, and sweat until most of the liquid has evaporated and the celery has just started to soften, about 12 minutes.
- 3Add broth and water, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer until celery is tender, about 10 minutes.
- 4Using a blender, purée soup in batches until smooth. Return soup to the stove to reheat. Season well with salt and pepper.
For the garnish (optional):
- 1Heat olive oil in a small frying pan until bubbling or about 325°F to 350°F.
- 2Add half of the shallots and fry until golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, season with salt, and repeat with remaining shallots.
- 3Serve soup topped with fried shallots.
Beverage pairing: The delicate and fine flavors here suggest a Riesling, but to reinforce the rare and green flavor of celery, try going to a comparable but different wine, Grüner Veltliner from Austria. A light style with a little characteristic pepper fits the bill: 2006 Schloss Gobelsburg Gobelsburger.