Celery root is one of those vegetables that just looks intimidating. Covered in dirt, all-over-knobbly, seems like it’s been underground for about a hundred years … but underneath all that, it’s surprisingly easy to slice and really delicious, with a subtle nutty flavor. I discovered it last winter, when I started making this soup, and a lentil and celery root dish from Plenty * that’s really good (also how I discovered that “celeriac” is British English for “celery root” and therefore I could get what Ottolenghi describes as “probably my favorite root” in my own home town!)
This is originally a Deborah Madison recipe, and I love how thoughtful she is about both using up all the veggies, and using your time wisely. The root trimmings go into a stock, which cooks as you get everything else ready. This time of year, I’m waiting for spring, and ready to eat something new (or at least new-to-me). Want to come on a new vegetable adventure?
Celery Root and Apple Soup
Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
Get out your vegetable brush, and go to town on:
1 1/2 pounds celery root
Thickly peel it, with a knife. You’ll be able to see the boundary between the outer and inner layers. Throw any pieces that are too deeply rutted or full of tiny roots to be clean into the compost. Put the clean peelings into a stock pot (use a smaller pot here if you can, you’ll need a bigger one to start the soup in) along with:
1 cup chopped leek greens OR a few slices of onion
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery stalk
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of fresh parsley (if you have it)
Pinch of fresh thyme
Pinch of salt
Cover all this with 6 cups of water, bring it to a boil, and then let simmer for 25 minutes.
The peeled celery root
1 onion OR 2 fat leeks
1 cup celery
1 apple, thinly sliced. I like to use a Pink Lady, either a small one or half a large. I really like the flavor, but too much can make the soup a little too sweet. Or you can follow the original directions and use a more tart apple.
1/2 cup potato
Melt in the big soup pot:
2 Tablespoons butter
Add all the soup vegetables, plus another pinch of salt. Cook over medium for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add:
1/2 cup water
Cook on low until the stock is done. Pour the stock through a strainer into the soup, and simmer for about 20 more minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Let cool and then puree the soup to the texture you like.
A splash of cream is good in the soup when it’s done.
Reheat gently, taste for seasoning, and serve with:
Very thinly sliced celery heart
Very thinly sliced apple, and
A little crumbled blue cheese on top.
Don’t skip the toppings, they really make this soup special.
* You can also read this recipe on his website. The main variation I like is to saute the chopped celery root in some butter/olive oil instead of boiling it. It comes out golden and tender and super yummy.
What about you, tried any new vegetables lately? Have any favorite late-winter recipes? (If you’re reading from the Southern Hemisphere right now, I’m jealous …)