• Packham pear, parsnip and potato soup with walnuts (Sharyn Cairns)

This is a simple, gentle, warming winter soup with a subtle pear sweetness. The nutty salsa on top provides the contrast: a little tangy and slightly salty with a hint of bitterness and crunch from the walnut.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (48 votes)


  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 medium brown onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 350 g kipfler potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1 cm rounds
  • 20 g butter
  • 150 g parsnip, peeled and sliced into simila- sized pieces like the potato
  • 2 just-ripe packham pears (about 300 g each), peeled, cored and each cut into eighths
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced sage
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt flakes and white pepper


Walnut salsa

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 40 g roasted walnuts
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp robust extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place a nice soup-sized pot on your stove on a medium heat, give it a few moments to warm and then add a healthy splash of oil. Once the oil is warmed, add in the onions, some salt and pepper and cook slowly and gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in the garlic, potato and butter, give the butter time to melt, then stir to coat all the ingredients. Give everything a minute or two and then add in the parsnip. Cook this mix together, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes before adding in the pear and sage.

Raise the heat and stir everything together, cooking for another few minutes before adding in your stock. Cut out a round of baking paper to sit on the surface. Bring the stock to the boil before turning down to a gentle simmer.

Continue cooking gently for 25–30 minutes. You want the potato and parsnip to be soft and starting to break down.

Remove the pot from the heat, let it cool a little and then purée the mix in a blender until smooth. Depending on the strength of your blender, you may need to pass the soup through a sieve. You are aiming for a smooth texture.

While your soup is simmering away, it’s time to make the walnut salsa topping. Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and pound until it becomes white and fluffy. Add in the capers and pound them until fine, and then the walnuts. The walnuts need to be worked just enough so they are in small pieces but not too fine. At this stage add in your chopped parsley and give it all a good mix with just a little more gentle pounding. Use your pestle to stir in the vinegar and oil. Season with black pepper and set aside. Make sure you don’t make this too far ahead of time as it will lose its vibrancy.

When you’re ready, serve the soup in individual bowls with a nice splodge of your walnut bits in the middle. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil before serving.



• When I make soup, I usually make far too much because I think it’s a handy thing to have in your fridge at all times. The walnut topping will make enough for 4 so increase the amounts if you are serving more people.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page.

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This recipe is part of The seasonal cook: Pear column.

View previous The seasonal cook columns and recipes.