The Goddess loves Brussels Sprouts…they’re mini heads of cabbage for goodness sake. Who wouldn’t love them? This is a version of the soup I make in the autumn and winter months, but it is perfect for an after Thanksgiving meal. It’s filling without being too heavy, it will warm you to your soul…and use up some leftovers (mashed potatoes)! How often can you make that claim? I used frozen Brussels sprouts for this, as I often do in the winter. They are readily available in most supermarkets and they are much less expensive and labor intensive than fresh. They work great in a soup. The sprouts cut more easily if you only partially thaw them.
The Goddess does wish to remind you that fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables have identical nutritional value. She’s mentioned this in the past, but this is just a gentle reminder, given the time of year, to perhaps look to frozen or canned vegetables and/or fruit, instead of fresh. Many fresh vegetables and fruit, no matter how nice they look in the produce department, have been there too long and have lost some of their nutritional value. Frozen and canned vegetables and fruits are picked and processed at their peak, thus locking in the goodness. I used canned pears, because I didn’t have fresh and as you know, I’m cleaning out the pantry! Admittedly, I rarely use frozen or canned carrots or beans. I don’t like their consistency, but their nutritional value is not in question. I do use such things when making soups. They work great and are usually less expensive…win-win!
Brussels Sprout and Pear Soup with Bacon Croutons
This soup will take about 30 minutes from start to finish, so it’s a quick meal.
- 6-8 slices of good smoky bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2-3 tablespoons reserved bacon fat or olive oil
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 lb cooked (or thawed, frozen) Brussels sprouts, quartered
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules or 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes (see NOTE)
- 2 pears, peeled, cored and coarsely diced (see NOTE)
- 1/2-1 cup heavy cream
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2-4 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
- Crumbled bacon for garnish
- Cashews, coarsely chopped for garnish
- Dried cranberries for garnish (optional)
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the bacon; fry until nicely browned. Remove the bacon; set aside. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the mushrooms, spreading them out. Do not stir for at least 2 minutes. Give them a stir and leave them for 2 more minutes. Stir in the onion and bay leaves; continue to cook, over lower heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sprouts, caraway, if using, and the garlic granules; continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in half of the broth; stir in the mashed potatoes, breaking them up slightly if they are cold. Add the remaining broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the pears, heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of the acid; simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, adding additional acid and the honey, if needed (see the NOTE). This is best made at least 2 hours ahead. Reheat and serve; garnish each bowl with some of the bacon bits and cashews. Serve with good bread or a sandwich.
NOTE: This is a great way to use up leftover Brussels sprouts or to use frozen Brussels sprouts. Use leftover mashed potatoes, or peel and dice 2 Yukon Gold potatoes and add with the onions. They will cook and be done by the end of the total cooking time. You may prefer to use canned pears in their own juice. If you choose this option, dice the pears and use their liquid in the soup. If you do this, you probably won’t need the honey, but let your taste buds be your guide. I have used peeled and diced apples and some apple cider with this, instead of the pears.
You may wish to omit the caraway and use fresh snipped dill or lemon thyme, or add corn kernels and diced fresh fennel or carrots. This is a flexible soup and a terrific way to utilize leftovers. Instead of bacon, use diced kielbasa, cooked sausage or hot dogs. You may omit the heavy cream, but it does add a texture and silkiness that is wonderful.
Brussels Sprout and Pear Soup with Bacon Croutons Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All Rights Reserved.
This is a flexible soup. You could add some of the leftover Winter Squash au Gratin Supreme, if you want to get rid of it. Take a moment to look at the NOTE at the bottom of the recipe for some other ideas. The most challenging part of this soup, is to get the sweet and acid balance where you want it. If you are serving this soup later, you may want to over-season it just slightly. The flavors will “go into” the soup and become less pronounced as it sits.
Wouldn’t this be just the thing for a Black Friday dinner with a leftover turkey sandwich?