When I was little I had a doll house, everything was in perfect detail but miniature. I loved it. Maybe this is one of the reasons I am so enamored with cocktail party food – miniature versions of the various courses of a meal. In my mind New Year’s Eve is the perfect time for a cocktail party! Serving a meal close to midnight seems a little, well daunting. Actually, washing up after it is even more daunting. Plus it really is a bit late to sit down and consume a whole meal. As I was envisioning the perfect New Years Eve cocktail party I thought of an entire meal in miniature – little nibbles that in whole could constitute dinner.

And what would a truly elegant meal be without a soup course? Serving soup at cocktail parties is a bit unexpected, another reason I love the idea. Just pour soup into shot glasses and pass around, no spoons needed. It can also be made well ahead, cutting down on pre-party stress. Just keep the soup warm in a thermos and pour it out – easy peasy!

This Pear Parsnip Soup is a lovely combination of sweet pears, spunky parsnips and just a hint of exotic from cardamom. Of course you can always serve this in bowls for a first course to a sit down dinner.

All good soups deserve a great accompaniment which is why I am including here two more delicious recipes that pair (pardon my pun) very well with this pear soup; gluten-free pecan blue cheese crackers and pear paste. The combo of these three elements is a flavor explosion in your mouth.

Whether you host a big bash for New Years, go to a swanky party or just curl up with a loved one, I hope you have a safe and fabulous time.

Pear Parsnip Soup with Pecan Blue Cheese Crackers and Pear Paste

My New Year’s wish for you is that this coming year brings joy and happiness and may you accomplish all you want in 2011!



Gluten Free Pear Parsnip Soup with Pecan Blue Cheese Crackers and Pear Paste Recipe


Pear Parsnip Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 large Bosc pears, peeled, cored and chopped
1 ½ pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 cups gluten-free vegetable stock
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Garnish – finely sliced pears that have been soaked in water with the juice of 1 lemon

Gluten Free Pecan Blue Cheese Crackers

2 ¾ cups pecans
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
4 ounces gluten-free blue cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg

Pear Paste

3 large ripe pears, cored, seeded and chopped
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon


Pear Parsnip Soup

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cardamom and pears and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the parsnips are fork tender.

Place half the mixture in a blender that has the center piece removed from the lid. Cover the top with a towel to prevent splattering and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl or pitcher. Repeat with remaining mixture. Can be made ahead and re-heated before serving. To serve as shots, re-heat, pour into shot glasses and garnish with a slice of pear.

Gluten Free Pecan Blue Cheese Crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a food processor, grind the pecans as finely as you can without turning them into paste. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well blended.

Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball for each cracker. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough, spacing the balls 3 inches apart.

Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper over the balls and press down on each one, flattening them into circles about 1/16th of an inch thick, using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup. Remove the paper and bake for 12 – 17 minutes or until they are browned and firmish to the touch.

Let cool on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.

Makes 50 – 60 gluten free  crackers depending on the size. Can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

Pear Paste

Place pears in a large, heavy saucepan and add just enough water to barely cover the pears. Bring to boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes or until the pears are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove pears from water and put in blender. Blend at high speed until fully pureed. Pour hot water out of saucepan; add the pureed pears back to the pan along with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to keep the mixture at just barely a boil. Stir frequently and cook for 45 minutes until the mixture is very thick. The bubbles will be big, fat, lazy ones at this point. Let cool. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

Store covered in the refrigerator. Remove from fridge about 10 minutes before serving. Makes a great gluten free addition to a fruit and cheese platter.


Serves 8 or makes 48 shots.

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Categories:    Appetizers

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Naomi Devlin December 29, 2010 at 7:06 am

I like the P theme running through this – makes me think of an old TV advert we had when I was a kid for penguin bars – "p, p, p, pick up a penguin".Those pecan crackers look heavenly and I love the idea of shots of soup lined up like tequilla slammers – down in one!x x x


Wendy @Celiacs in the House December 29, 2010 at 9:06 am

What time is the party? Count me in. Just beautiful and pears are a favorite.


Iris December 29, 2010 at 9:50 am

I'm with Wendy…I want to come! I didn't know you could get gluten-free blue cheese. Definitely something good to know!


Toni December 30, 2010 at 12:08 am

Hmmmm…I never imagined using pears and parsnips in a soup together, but the more I think of it, the more intriguing it becomes. I'm definitely going to try this one!


The InTolerant Chef December 30, 2010 at 5:16 am

Every part of these recipes sound great. I really love parsnips and the crackers sound lovely and easy too. I will enjoy these!


Donna December 31, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I want to come too! Love this pear soup – I am sooo going to try it. And the pear paste. And the crackers…:)


Brittany @ Real Sustenance January 9, 2011 at 11:45 am

Oh my gosh Carol!! this looks and sounds SO good! I love how you used all winter produce!! This recipe would fit in perfectly at Seasonal Sundays!


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