Serves 6 as a starter
2 tbsp (30 ml) grapeseed oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced, fronds set aside for garnish
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
salt, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium red beets, peeled and roughly chopped
3 pears, roughly chopped
4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock
¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream or crème fraiche, for garnish
1 firm, underripe pear
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
½ cup (125 ml) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup (125 ml) grated Asiago cheese
1 tbsp (15 ml) finely chopped fresh chives
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk, divided
¾ cup (175 ml) finely chopped fresh pears


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add fennel, onions and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables have softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in beets, pears and stock. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let soup simmer, uncovered, until beets are easily pierced with a fork, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  2. Using either a blender or immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. Transfer back to saucepan and warm over medium-low heat. Season to taste.
  3. To serve, ladle soup into warm bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of about 2 tsp (10 ml) sour cream, a couple Crisp Pear Slices and a sprinkle of reserved fennel fronds. Serve with Pear Asiago Scones.
  4. To make CRISP PEAR SLICES: Preheat oven to 225 F (110 C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  5. Using a mandoline or chef ’s knife, very thinly slice pear lengthwise and place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour. Flip slices and continue baking until slightly darkened and edges have started to curl, another 1 to 1½ hours. Transfer to a wire rack and let stand until cool and crisp. Pear slices may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 4 days. Makes about 20 slices
  6. To make PEAR ASIAGO SCONES: Preheat oven to 450 F (220 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  7. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into flour using a pastry blender, or 2 dinner knives, until mixture is slightly sandy with pea-sized chunks of butter throughout. With a fork, stir in cheese and chives before placing mixture in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Once chilled, add ¾ cup + 2 tbsp (205 ml) buttermilk and chopped pears. Toss mixture together until just incorporated.
  8. Turn out dough onto prepared baking sheet and gently press into a 6 to 8-in (15 to 20 cm) square. Cut lengthwise into equal thirds before cutting each third into 3 equal pieces. Position scones so that they are just touching one another before lightly brushing tops of each with remaining 2 tbsp (30 ml) buttermilk. Bake until golden brown, about 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before serving. Scones are best eaten same day. Makes 9 scones
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