Beautifully Creamy, Delicious… Ugly Soup.

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Celeriac, also called turnip-rooted celery, or knob celery, or celery root– is cultivated for its delicious, edible roots, hypocotyl, and shoots. While this delicious root vegetable has many cooks and urban gardeners disagreeing on what to call it– there is one thing everyone agrees on. Many say, celeriac is the ugliest root vegetable ever. I say, while it’s not only ugly, and confusing…you should still give it a chance. Everyone wants to know if celeriac are celery the same thing , and can they each be used interchangeably in cooking? Are they… Can they?

What Exactly is Celeriac? Is it Celery?

Well… technically no. Not only are celery and celeriac appearances incredibly different– celery and celery root are really only long-lost cousins. Simply related botanically. They both have the taste of celery, although many people find celeriac to be earthier and more intense. Both can be used either cooked or raw, but in either case, their texture is widely different, so they are not interchangeable in most recipes.

Celeriac is very dense, hairy, knobby, and strange to look at. The size of a grapefruit and contains a pale-yellow hue. Like most root vegetables, celeriac is perfect in soups and stews. Makes a perfectly cheesy gratin sharing the spotlight with a somewhat jealous potato.

Left raw, celeriac can be grated into a salad and is most famous for its appearance in the dish, céléri remoulade. A very classic cold salad made almost everywhere in France; containing shredded raw celeriac, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt , pepper and a dash of lemon juice. Some add capers, green apple or chopped dill pickles, called cornichons.

Celeriac is a humble root that doesn’t get enough attention. I am here to ask you to give this ugly root a chance because celeriac makes a beautiful, creamy, deliciously sweet… ugly soup!

Ugly Soup with Truffle Oil 

You’ll Need:

2 Tablespoons good quality olive oil

4 Tablespoons of unsalted sweet cream butter

1 leek, cleaned thoroughly and chopped in 1/2 in slices up to the green leaves

2 celery ribs, rough chopped

3 large fresh shallots, peeled and diced

2 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 large celeriac roots, peeled and cut in medium dice ( will discolor quickly, place cut pieces in water while waiting to prepare soup)

1 large russet potato, peeled and diced

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 quarts good quality chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream or almond milk. Room temperature.

1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Kosher salt

Truffle oil, for drizzling ( optional ) 

Crispy cooked and crumbled bacon or small diced cooked pancetta for garnish or air fried root vegetable

Here’s How:

In a large 8-10 quart stock pot on medium low heat, add the olive oil and butter. Add the chopped leeks and celery. Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes until the leeks begin to soften. Add the shallots and garlic and continue to cook for and additional 2 minutes. Cook only until translucent, do not brown.

Add the celeriac, potato, and a large pinch of the chopped parsley (reserving some for garnish). Add the stock to cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and can be pierced through easily with a knife. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper to your liking.

Remove the pan from the heat and blend the soup with an immersion hand blender or in batches in your standing blender. Process until smooth.

Return soup to the stockpot if using a standing blender. Add fresh thyme. Stir in the crème fraîche or almond milk and stir to combine flavors. Heat gently for an additional 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning for the final time. Do not bring to a boil with the addition of cream of the soup will break so resist the urge to walk away from the pot at this stage.

Serve in warmed soup bowls with a drizzle of truffle oil and additional chopped parsley and your favorite garnish.

Variation : Add crispy bacon or pancetta topping to garnish.

Ooh La Lah! Quickie French Onion Soup!

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If you are anything like me – you’re always short on time, but big on flavor. Well, then…this recipe is perfect for you! One of my families favs. They think I’ve been cooking up a storm all day. Shhhhh!  I get this soup made in about 30- 40 minutes- enjoy! 

Ingredients: 

1/2 c unsalted butter

2 T olive oil

4 large onions, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 bay leaves

2 fresh thyme sprigs

Salt & black pepper

1 cup good quality red wine, about 1/2 bottle ( optional )

4 T. flour

2 quarts beef broth

1 sweet baguette, sliced in 1 inch diagonal slices

1/2 pound grated Gruyere ( or your favorite swiss )

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine for garnish ( optional )

Method:

In a 8-10 quart stock pot over medium heat, melt the butter and oil. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are deep brown and caramelized. 10-15 minutes.

Add the wine, bring to a boil- reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Remove the herbs, discard.

Dust the onions with the flour, stir. Reduce heat to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook the flour about 5 mins. Add the beef broth slowly while staring to avoid and lumping. Return the soup back to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toast sliced baguettes in toaster or under the broiler in the oven until nicely brown.(remember to toast both sides of bread if using the oven ) Rub each piece of toasted baguette with additional fresh cut piece of garlic ( optional, for additional flavor ). Set aside.

When ready to serve, pre heat the oven to broil.  Place the soup bowls into a high sided roasting pan and ladle the onion soup into bowls. Top each bowl with 2 slices of the toasted bread, and top with a handful of grated Gruyere cheese. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top of the cheese. ( optional ) Place in the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

 

Time saving note: Sliced and toasted Baguettes can be made ahead during the day and set aside until meal time. It is ok if they begin to stale, they will reconstitute in the soup.