The Root Vegetable Chronicles: Celery Root Soup with Apple and Blue Cheese
The root vegetable love continues today with a recipe using celery root, or celeriac. Celery root is one of my favorite root vegetables; I like the gentle celery flavor, creamy white interior, and endearingly warty surface. Sure, it’s a bit harder to clean (the dirt gets kind of stuck between the swirls of the knobby root) but it’s not that big a deal. NPR has a great article on celery root here, calling it “the unsung frog prince of winter vegetables.” I love that!
The flavors in this soup go really nicely together – the earthy celery root, crisp tart apple, and creamy blue cheese. In Deborah Madison’s recipe, she garnishes it with lovage, as well, which I think would have really been a nice touch. I’ve never tried lovage, but a quick googling turned up this site, where lovage is described as having a “pure and strong flavor of celery…but with definite undertones of fenugreek and curry leaf.” [On a side note, I am definitely planting this in my garden next year!] I, however, did not have any lovage on hand so – thinly sliced scallion greens would have to do for a bit of green color, but they certainly couldn’t compare with the lovage for a bright, pungently celery flavor. Definitely don’t skimp on the apple in the garnish; it gives a nice bright acidity to the soup.
But, lovage or not, it’s still a tasty soup, and was a good way to use some of the celeriac I’ve been accumulating from the share for the past few weeks. One of the things I really like about many of Deborah Madison’s soup recipes is that she often has you make a simple stock using some of the trimming from the vegetables on which the soup is based – it’s a nice detail that boosts the flavor even more.
And so concludes the week of root vegetable recipes – I’ll be moving on to other things next week…Happy Friday!
Celery Root Soup with Apple and Blue Cheese
For the stock:
scrubbed peels from the celery root
1 cup chopped leek greens or onion
3 long celery ribs, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Bouquet garni of 1 bay leaf, 3 parsley sprigs, pinch of dried thyme
For the soup:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion or 2 fat leeks, thinly sliced
3 cups diced celery root (1 to 1 1/2 pounds scrubbed celery root)
1 cup diced celery ribs
1 large tart apple, i.e. Granny Smith, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced potato
1 cup half and half or milk
For the garnish:
3/4 cup very thinly sliced celery heart
1/4 apple, thinly sliced and cut into matchsticks
5 small lovage leaves, slivered, or other green herb like parsley or chives
blue cheese, crumbled
Slice away the celery root skins thickly, with a knife, cutting in more towards the center of at the base where the root is more gnarled (the dirt gets swirled into the flesh a bit here.) Put the trimmings in a pot along with the rest of the stock ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, get the soup started. Melt the butter in a wide soup pot, then add the onion, celery root, apple, potato, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, cover the pot, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
The stock should be just about finished cooking now. Strain it directly into the vegetables, bring to a boil and then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup until smooth, then stir in the half-and-half or milk and taste for salt.
Divide the soup among bowls and top with the garnish ingredients.