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Celeriac Soup

January 3, 2011

It’s a few days after the holidays. I’ve been cooking and Feasting  (yes – a capital F) for days and days now. And before that, I was prepping for said Feasts by scouring every type of food emporium high and low for my long list of ingredients. I’m not complaining – I love the Holiday Feasting. And I enjoy just as much the plotting, planning and list-writing that make the Feasts happen.

But today I want something simple and with no fuss.  Everything I need to make lunch will have to be already on hand since I’m not going outside in the cold.

Did I mention it’s freezing? The winter wind is managing to seep through every last one of my drafty windows. Soup is definitely in order.

I have about 2/3 left of a large head of celeriac in the fridge – leftover from making a crisp and tart celeriac and green apple salad.  That salad was delicious; I’m still coasting off how much I loved it, especially the celeriac.  The not so good looking on the outside celeriac has an earthy, nutty and substantial core. Even though its look and texture is different, celeriac’s taste does remind you of celery.

I’ll use the rest of the root vegetable for a warming and comforting soup.

After all of the extravagant (and expensive) food purchased and eaten over the holidays, I’m happy to revert back to something humble.

Celeriac Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
Medium sized celeriac, diced (see note below)
1 large potato, peeled and diced
A few sprigs of thyme, stripped of their leaves
1 bay leaf
4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable but always low-sodium)
1 Parmesan rind*
Ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream*
Salt
Chives for garnishing*
Croutons for serving (see note below)

*These items are optional.

Parmesan Rind: I was lucky to find a Parmesan rind that I could add. Parmesan rinds are a great addition of flavor to soups and a great way to use something you would just throw out.

Heavy cream: After pureeing, the soup will already be rich and thick from the starchy potato and celery root. The cream will make it a bit more silky and brighten the beigey colour of the soup.

Chives: I like chives with this soup but if you don’t have chives you can always add parsley for that fresh green ‘pop’ of flavor and colour or omit entirely.

Melt butter over lower medium heat in a medium sized pot.  Add the onions, celery, and garlic. You want to cook the vegetables until the onions are transparent. You don’t want them to colour at all, just soften.  This should take about 6- 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the potato and celeriac.  Stir to toss everything together.  Add the thyme leaves and bay leaf. Add the stock and the Parmesan rind.  Add a few good grindings of black pepper. Stir everything together. Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat to low. Cover and let the soup slowly bubble away for about 30 minutes until celeriac and potatoes are very tender.

Remove the bay leaf and the Parmesan rind.  Taste for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  I don’t season with salt until the end. Even though I use low sodium stock, I taste for salt last to make sure my soup doesn’t get over salted.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.  You can also use a regular blender, blending the soup in batches.  If using a blender, leave the cap open on the lid so heat can escape. The hot soup could explode if the cap is sealed tight.

After the soup is blended, stir in the cream. Serve the soup topped with the chives and the croutons. The chives are optional, of course. The croutons I really like in a creamy soup.  They add some texture and also a nutty, toasty flavor.

This recipe makes about 4-5 servings.

Notes:

Celeriac:  Use a knife to carve off the thick, knobby outside layer. A vegetable peeler will make this job too difficult.  Trim both ends of the celeriac so they’re flat. Set the celeriac on a newly trimmed flat-side.  Starting from the top, take your knife and cut down the celeriac, following the curve of the vegetable. You’re taking off the outside layer from top to bottom. Go around the entire vegetable, using the same motion, until all of the thick outside layer is gone.

Croutons: I had about a 1/3 of a baguette left that was 3 days old. It still had a bit of give to it. I cut the baguette into large cubes and placed them on a baking sheet. Then drizzled bread cubes with olive oil and sprinkled some coarse salt over them. Tossed them around and placed them in a 300 preheated oven.  They toasted for about 5-7 minutes until lightly golden brown. I tossed a rather large handful of the croutons into my bowl of soup.  I then felt quite smug about using the stale bread instead of just throwing it out.

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