Celery Root Soup

Are you aware that celery is a root vegetable? I was a having dinner with my (German) boss and (Mexican) colleague a year ago, and one of them was surprised that Americans often don’t realize that celery stalks are not the whole plant. You can’t really blame them, since most of their exposure is just to the stalks — and if you’re like me, primarily as a childhood peanut butter delivery vehicle, or an early science class experiment in plant vascular systems.

But upon moving over here, we saw the roots (“celeriac”) available in grocery stores nearly as frequently as the stalks. Last year, around the time we started roasting our vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts), I saw this video from the NY Times, so we began thinking about celeriac in future meal plans.

Then Sarah recently found this recipe: http://junglefrog-cooking.com/celeriac-soup-with-crunchy-bacon-bits/

As usual, we applied our own touches and substitutions to it — in this case, mostly out of convenience. We found the mild flavor comforting and the soup’s thick-but-still-liquid texture very filling. It holds warmth really well, which makes it a great dinner on an unseasonably cold autumn evening.

Our Substitutions/Additions/Omissions

  1. Freshly grated nutmeg — not too much — and black pepper seemed appropriate here.
  2. We skipped the olive oil drizzle at the end.
  3. We went with regular old bacon instead of pancetta or lardons or something fancier.
  4. Dried thyme instead of fresh, because buying fresh around here means like a pound of it — way more than we could ever use.
  5. We used whipping cream instead of double cream.

Ingredients

150 g bacon, chopped
bit of butter
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
tablespoon of dried thyme
1 celery root, peeled and cut into chunks
850 ml chicken stock
100 ml whipping cream, unwhipped
a couple scrapes of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

In a soup pot, fry the bacon until the fat renders and it has gotten as crispy as you want it. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-covered plate to drain, but leave the rendered fat in the pot. If you need more fat, add a little olive oil or butter (no more than a tablespoon) to the pot and add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes translucent. Add the bay leaf, the dried thyme, and the celeriac and cook for another 2 minutes.

Pour the stock into the pot, bring it to a boil, then turn it down and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the celeriac is soft (knife slides into a chunk easily). Remove the bay leaf, stir the cream in, add the black pepper and nutmeg, and puree the soup with a stick blender until smooth. Throw the bacon back into the soup pot or add it to the bowls upon serving.

3 thoughts on “Celery Root Soup”

  1. CN Heidelberg

    Celery root is one of the best-smelling foods ever.

  2. Courtenay Grabowski

    FYI, if you find yourself with a pound of fresh thyme, you can freeze it…and the next time somebody gets a cold or flu, you can brew it like tea and drink it like crazy. It’s antimicrobial and helps you fight germies faster. One of our favorite tricks. My kids prefer it with raw honey…but they prefer pretty much anything with raw honey, so, there you have it. ;)

    1. cliff1976

      Thanks Courtenay. I know we do that with rosemary (in the process of which it becomes “frosemary,” natch — just used some last night in this soup), but I don’t know the reason we haven’t done that with thyme.

      “Raw honey” — as opposed to what? Does that mean straight out of the comb?

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