Wednesday, March 10, 2010

celeriac soup

celeriac apple potato soup

This is a 100% food co-op inspired dish. Before joining my CSA, (short for community sponsored agriculture), I had never even heard of, let alone eaten or tried to cook with celeriac. Also known as celery root, this knobby root vegetable has a tough, woody looking peel that hides a plain looking white interior. Back in the fall, it was included in one of our weekly veggie deliveries. When I made my way past the lettuce and carrots, what I found was a box of dirt. Skeptically, I dug my hands in a pulled out two scrawny and filthy roots. Like much of what we get at the CSA, that day's celeriac was much smaller, misshapen and dirtier than anything that you'll find at the grocery store, or even at a farmer's market. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised when I successfully transformed such an utterly unpromising vegetable into a delicious soup. It was so good that I was inspired to make it again from the giant celery roots on sale at the Union Square green market, and that I am about to tell all of you about it!

First of all, I only discovered this soup via the magic of teh internets. Every time I would come home from the co-op with a strange and intimidating vegetable, (fennel, kohlrabi, rainbow chard, cardoon, garlic scapes, lambs quarter...), the internet would have the answer I was looking for. In the case of celeriac, there were multiple answers, but the one I settled on was a celeriac, apple and potato soup. Although it sounded tasty, I was a little worried about how the sweet apples would stand alongside the savory stock and starchy potatoes. However, the celeriac really brought it all together. If you're still scared, know that Hell's Kitchen's Gordon Ramsay does his own variation with stilton cheese.

The two recipes are very similar: saute onions in melted butter with salt and pepper until soft. Add chopped potatoes and celeriac and cook for about ten minutes. Pour in stock (I used about three cups), dry or fresh thyme, the juice of half a lemon, and one large chopped red apple, (not red delicious, the good kind). Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for a half hour or so. At this point, I went to town with the immersion blender, but you can also use a blender or a hand masher and sieve if need be, because everything should be nice and soft. Once it was nice and creamy, I added some crumbled blue cheese in lieu of the stilton, and if I had parsley, I definitely would have chopped it and tossed it in for color, as this soup is not the prettiest. The first recipe suggested adding cream, which probably accounts for her soup being lighter than the yucky gray color that mine is, but I didn't have any. I topped it with crumbled bacon and sliced scallions (because I didn't have chives) the first night, and tossed in some extra blue cheese upon subsequent reheatings.

What I can tell you about this soup is that having exact quantities isn't all that important. The first time I made it, I had the tiniest tiniest of celery roots, and a big old bag of baby purple potatoes. The second time I made it, I had a big ass celeriac, and three or four itsy bitsy red potatoes. I would say to try to use more celeriac than potatoes, because the flavor of the celery root is really what makes this soup unusual, but if you're a bit short it will still be good. I'd also say that you shouldn't waste your time peeling your potatoes or apples, as it all gets blended together in the end.

Serve this soup with some crusty bread and a nice salad, and you've got a first rate dinner!


  1. This sounds really delicious! I also had no idea what celeriac was before I started gardening. I'm kind of biased to hating it mostly because it's a pain in the ass to harvest and an even bigger pain in the ass to clean. But we've got a row of it out back so maybe I'll suck it up and try making this!