Celery Squared Soup

celery soup

This soup has become such a fall ritual in our household that I begin craving it as soon as the garden tomato season is over – typically mid to late October.  The fresh, green taste of celeriac – a variety of celery grown primarily for the large, gnarly root secreted beneath a bushy growth of fibrous (but perfectly edible) stalks – here is underscored by the sharper flavor from conventional green celery. The combination seems to particularly bring out the abundance of natural sugars in the celery root. Some celeriac recipes call for apples or potatoes or leeks.  Play with it if you will, but for my taste, I stick to the basics.

1 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 C chopped onion
1½ C chopped celery stalks
1 medium to large celeriac, about 2 pounds
1/4 t celery seed
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
4 C vegetable or chicken stock
2 C light cream

Melt butter and oil on large pot and add onion and celery.  Cover and cook gently until onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.  While veggies are cooking, use a sharp knife to trim and clean the celeriac, removing the skin.  Cut the flesh into a rough dice; add to onions and celery and at the same time, add the spices, through red pepper flakes if using.  Cover the pot and let the vegetables sweat on medium heat for another 20-15 minutes, until the celeriac begins to soften and some of the smaller pieces start caramelizing. If it starts to brown, turn down heat.  Next add the vegetable broth and cook, covered, until all the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the soup cool a little.  Puree, using an immersion blender or food processor.  Add cream and continue to blend until the cream is fully incorporated.  Pour the soup through a fine-mesh sieve.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve hot or chilled, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and additional red pepper flakes if desired.

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