I bet most of you have got a whole bunch of celery languishing in your fridge. It’s just sitting there forlornly, having had just a stalk or two removed for pastas, stir-fries, snacking. This soup is one way to painlessly use the rest of it, pairing up with celeriac to add depth of flavour and body to a fine winter soup.
Celeriac is the root of a type of celery plant. Prettiness does not number as one of its virtues: a friend of mine observed that the one I cooked for this soup resembled an Ood). This knobbly, lumpish root is valued because has a faint celery fragrance and the rich, starchy texture of potatoes when cooked. On its own it can be too creamy, so the addition of celery helps to balance everything. The flavour is not overwhelmingly of celery; it’s just faintly there, adding a unique savour to this velvety and comforting dish.
This recipe is adapted from Delia Smith. I’ve shortened the process considerably because, quite frankly, not many people have got 3 and a bit hours to spare for soup-making. This recipe probably takes about an hour from start to finish, vegetable preparation included.
- . About 300g celery stalks and heart(s), leaves reserved (trimmed and peeled weight)
- . About 450g celeriac (trimmed and peeled weight; buy one which weighs at least 125g more than you need)
- . 1 medium onion, peeled, root removed
- . 1 garlic clove, peeled and squashed flat with a knife
- . 25g unsalted butter
- . 2 bay leaves
- . 1 litre vegetable stock (from powder or cube is fine)
- . Salt and pepper to taste
- . Reserved celery leaves to garnish
- . A few spoonfuls crème fraîche to garnish, if liked
- Cut the celery, celeriac, and onion into large chunks.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add the celery, celeriac, onion, and garlic to the pan. Stir to coat with butter and cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened and wilted a little.
- Add the bay leaves and vegetable stock, bringing everything to a moderate simmer. Cover and leave to cook for about 20 – 25 minutes until all the vegetables are completely soft and can be easily pierced right through with a fork.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly before blending.
- If you don’t have any kind of blender, try lifting the vegetables out of the stock and into a large bowl and mashing with a fork or potato masher. You may not get quite as fine a texture, but you will still get a comforting soup. Mix back into the stock and reheat before serving.
- Taste the soup and season as desired with salt and pepper.
- Pour into warmed bowls, garnish each one with a spoonful of crème fraîche, and serve with crusty bread.