The humble celeriac bulb, also known as celery root, may be ghoulish in appearance, but don’t let that deter you from trying it. Its pale interior with a mild peppery celery flavour is excellent in soups and mashes. While I haven’t used it in a salad, I’ve tasted it raw and enjoy its delicate flavour and crisp texture.
Here’s a quick overview on how I tackle trimming this knobbly and many-tentacled root. Brush off as much loose dirt as possible. Then slice off the top and the bottom. Cut into quarters, and peel and trim until all the roots and skin are gone. Wash the quarters well and clean your chopping board. For soups or mashes, cut into chunks of the desired size and give them another rinse under cold water for good measure. If you’re julienning the celeriac for a slaw, make sure the quarters are impeccably clean before slicing.
For the Root of the Matter cooking class that I taught recently for the London Community Resource Centre, I decided to make a creamy celeriac soup. Not only is it a quick and easy soup to make, but it’s a good introduction to a vegetable that many people still aren’t familiar with and which, let’s face it, looks somewhat off-putting.
When I developed the soup for the class, I’d forgotten about the celery root and potato soup that I made and posted about two years ago. The two versions are definitely similar, but the seasonings are different. There is, however, light years of difference in the photography between then and now (and thank goodness for that).
The celeriac bulb transforms into an elegant, creamy soup with a delicate celery flavour and a hint of pepperiness, and it looks lovely. Presented with some thyme and droplets of olive oil as a garnish, it would be a lovely starter for a dinner party or the star of a soup and salad lunch.
Celeriac (Celery Root) Soup
The simple method of preparation can be used for a wide variety of root and other vegetable soups. If possible, use low sodium stock or bouillon so you can control the sodium. Otherwise, taste the soup before adding any salt.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, chopped
- 1 baking potato (Idaho), peeled and chopped
- 1 celeriac bulb (quartered, peeled, cubed and well-rinsed)
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 to 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped
- ½ to 1 cup milk (fat content you prefer) or additional stock
- Optional: 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large pot such as a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, lower the heat to low and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent. Stir in the potato, celeriac and pepper. Add the stock and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to simmer for about 25 minutes or until the potato and celeriac is soft.
Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Add the milk (or additional stock), starting with ½ cup and adding more if required. Once the soup has been puréed, stir in the parsley if using.
If you wish to garnish the soup, drizzle on a few drops of olive oil and add a sprig of fresh thyme.
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