Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A true revelation: celeriac soup

I'm a gal who loves her vegetables. I like them raw, I like them roasted, I like them stir fried, I like them steamed, I even like them boiled. I like 'em bitter, I like 'em sweet, I will pretty much eat 'em all, except for the grass growing on your front lawn. Maybe.

Of course I have my favorites, but there are none I really dislike. Some, however, have been filed away in my brain in the boring category. Celeriac or celery root was one of those. I didn't despise it, I just was not inspired by it, is all. I am not crazy about its mild celery flavor and it is not something I would normally buy, because honestly I wouldn't really know what to do with it.
A while back my vegetarian friend A. made it for me and I ate about four portions thought "hey, this isn't too bad!" and so when I saw it staring up at me in the fresh vegetable isle at the supermarket last week, I threw it in my cart on an impulse.

Fast forward to a few days later. Me staring at this bizzarre, dirty, huge vegetable sitting on my kitchen table.  I knew I had to get rid of it, because it isn't exactly convenient to store. Have you ever tried shoving a soccer ball into your fridge (a European fridge, not a huge American one by the way)?

Out came my Joy of Cooking. The easiest thing to make when you aren't convinced about a vegetable is soup. Even more so when it is raining outside and you happen to be a soup fiend. So, I followed this simple (oh, so simple) recipe and the result just blew me away.

I know, I know, I all too often express my excitement about a new recipe on this blog. I mean, why would I blog about it otherwise? But this soup was truly amazing. I realize my expectations were extremely low and just thinking about eating this soup for lunch made me yawn. And then it smelled like shortbread and cinnamon while it was bubbling away on the stove, seriously, and both my kids ate it without batting an eye. F, who is not a celeriac lover either, had two large helpings (while 'mmmmh'ing to no end) and when I sat at my desk avidly eating microwaved leftovers at work on Monday, a colleague actually asked what that amazing smell was. Do I need to convince you further?

Ok, enough of this ode to celery root. You got the idea.

Let me just give you a little additional information about this root. It is a part of the celery family and can be stored for long periods of time. It can be roasted or used in soups, stews and gratins. It is very poor in starch and calories: about 60kcal per cup. It is a great source of dietary fiber and it contains no cholesterol or fat.

1 medium to large celeriac (approx. 2 pounds)
1 large onion
1 leek
a large knob of butter
chicken or vegetable stock
a splash of milk
1/4 cup flour
salt if needed

Melt the butter in a large pot and peel and chop your onion and leek. Let them soften in the pot. In the meantime, wash and peel the celeriac with a potato peeler and then dice it. Don't fuss over the chopping, all the vegetables will be blended. When the onions and leek are soft, add in the celery root and let it cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle in the flour on high heat, stir and then pour in the stock until it barely covers the root. Cover the pot and let simmer for approximately a 1/2 hour or until the celeriac is soft. Blend with a hand blender and let cook a while longer, adjusting thickness with a splash of milk or cream. I used milk. Serve with a dusting of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

I am participating to Labna's Mettere Radici contest with this recipe.


  1. Celeriac is very popular in France but I've only ever really noticed it used in cold slaw-type salads although I know it is used otherwise. I love the idea of this soup and it looks so rich and luxurious. A really great soup for winter. And I am just sitting here imagining that great smell!

  2. Ciao
    Sono felice di conoscere il tuo blog e anche di conoscerti attraverso le tue ricette!
    Ti faccio i complimenti per i contenuti del blog e per le foto sono molto belle.
    Ps. Scusa se scivo in italiano ma è l'unica lingua che conosco "al momento"!!! ma con te non sarà un problema... ;-)

  3. I love vegetables just as much as you do! And I love soups as well! I'll try this!

  4. Jamie - it seems to be much more popular here in Europe than in the States. But to be honest, I don't really know anyone that eats it on a regular basis. I will keep in mind the option of using it in salads as I intend to buy it more often now.
    RAF - Ciao! Piacere mio! Non ho assolutamente problemi a corrispondere in italiano, figurati. Spero che tu capisca l'inglese abbastanza per poter seguire il mio blog. Altrimenti, se vedi qualche foto che ti ispira, scrivimi e cercherò di mandarti la ricetta in italiano.
    Jas - I see you also posted a soup recipe today, we are always synchronized. Funny! P.S. I can't find your Follower button, do you have one?

  5. I need no more convincing...this looks great!

    Can we please talk about that fish bowl!? LOVE IT! I am drawn to anything fish like....

    Another great post!

  6. I have always wondered what the heck that was whenever I saw it at the supermarket (often) Sedano rapa in Italian right? Now I have to go buy it and make it? Do you think it would work for a one year old too, or is the taste too strong?

  7. I don't think I've ever really seen a celeriac root in the grocery. Maybe it's one of those things I overlook, eh?

    Oh by the way, I'm not sure why my blog wouldn't let you follow me, but maybe try again later?

  8. When I was cheffing at The Convent Garden Hotel we cooked with Celeriac lots in terribly terribly European dishes, it was awesome and I loved it..., but I've been home in Oz for ages and haven't once used it. Your recipe has inspired me to hunt one of these weird looking pieces of vegetable down, and turn it into this soup.
    Sometimes a girls just gotta be reminded huh :)

  9. I love celeriac soup too and I remember the first time I saw a whole celeriac I thought that it looked like a rock! :P

  10. Moomser - yup, sedano rapa here in Italy. I think your little guy would like it. It tasted mild and buttery rather than like celery, which is what I feared.
    Peggy - I have a feeling it is not quite as common in the States, but you could probably find it at a farmers' market.
    I tried again, but the Follow button just doesn't respond, like it is not active. But it has happened to me somewhere else too...perhaps not Blogger compatible?
    Anna - I wish I could taste some of those lovely dishes you cooked. If you come up with other recipes for it, I am all ears - or eyes actually. Hehe
    Lorraine - It certainly looks like something prehistoric...

  11. You've convinced me to try it! We're doing a lot of soups lately- rain on the forecast all week in Rome too....

  12. Nicole - Hi and welcome! The weather has been horrendous all week in Milan too...ugh


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