the moveable feasts

Celery-Celery Soup

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celery-celery soup

Obviously, the appeals of plain, vegetable mush soup have not been lost upon me yet. But don’t be fooled—this one is extra special, and by extra special I of course mean that it is more unremarkable than the rest. Maybe even the most unremarkable! This is not your average run-of-the-mill vegetable mush, no, no, it is mush of the most thrown-away, despised and barely tolerated vegetable. Celery.

I would pity the vegetable and its unpopularity more if I myself weren’t part of the unappreciative masses who consume celery stalks for only one of 3 purposes: 1.) as a base for stocks and soups (which uses only a couple stalks—the rest inevitably languish in the vegetable drawer), 2.)  for ants on a log (don’t judge, that stuff is good), and 3.)  to munch on some fake calories to keep my stomach distracted  while I find something substantial to eat for dinner.

I honestly don’t know why I picked out celery-celery soup from all of Dorie Greenspan’s recipes in her Around My French Table cookbook to make. Maybe the day I decided to make it I was feeling extra sensitive and my empathetic instincts to side with the underdog has finally made its way onto my dinner plate.

celery-celery soup

All I know is the day I wanted to eat it for dinner, I couldn’t, because the celery root required for the recipe was no where to be found in the 3 nearest grocery stores near me. I will save your sanity, and mine, by not dwelling on the fact that I live in a culturally-forsaken area that doesn’t stock celery root in February. So, fast-forward two weeks from that night when I found some celery root in a health food store (that curiously and deliciously sells kombucha in bulk…awesome), and that is when the glory of this soup, or maybe more accurately lack thereof, began.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet by my ramblings, the double celery in the name signifies the presence of both celery stalks and celery root. There’s also some apples in the soup, which add some sweetness, but they don’t detract any of the main flavor. Besides that, there’s not much to it. Let’s just say that this is a soup of humble origins. (A random tangent: I actually love cooking really humble soups that require no more than water or broth, onions, and another vegetable or two. I think it goes back to when I had to read Night in middle school, and Elie Weisel wrote about how he ate some version of soup—aka water and onion—for his daily meal most days. I don’t know, there’s just something about eating a whole bunch of gooey cinnamon cake squares that immediately propels a person in the opposite direction afterwards.)

Anyway, what you end up with is a puree that’s light, and with sweetness and earthiness from the flavor of celery. I’m not going to add any whistles or bells to it, because after all we’re still talking about celery here, but it’s pretty good. Add on a drizzle of heavy cream, and some homemade curried croutons and curried apples—they take minutes to make and add a completely different, delicious dimension—and you’ve got yourself something even better. Something, dare I say, even actually special!

celery-celery soup

One Year Ago: Honey Whole-Wheat Bread

Celery-Celery Soup with Curried Croutons
From Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table
Serves 8, more or less

2 tablespoons butter
3 celery stalks with leaves, trimmed and sliced into rough 1/2-inch pieces
2 large onions, chopped
2 sweet apples (such as Fuji), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound celery root, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
6 cups vegetable broth
heavy cream, creme fraiche, or whole-milk yogurt, for serving

2 hefty tablespoons butter, separated
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, separated
2 sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into a dice
bread (country, white, wheat, whatever) tore or cut into a dice (enough to make 1-2 cups)

To make the soup, melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the sliced celery, onions, and apples and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the onions are beginning to get translucent but not brown, about 7 minutes or so. Stir in the celery root and the herbs. Add the broth, turn up the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the celery root smashes easily when pressed against with the back of a spoon. As Dorie says, if you can, pull out the bay leaf and thyme—but good luck with that.

While the soup is simmering, make the curried apples and croutons. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add in 1/4 teaspoon curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the diced apple and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. (These apples won’t get crispy like croutons, but I hardly think that’s the purpose of them.) Taste for seasonings, then remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, melt another hefty tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add in another 1/4 teaspoon curry and once again, stir until fragrant. Add in the bread cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until the croutons are browned and crispy. Taste for seasonings.

When the soup has simmered sufficiently, transfer the mixture in small batches to a blender and puree the soup until very smooth. Reheat and season to taste for salt and pepper. Serve, garnishing each bowl with a heavy drizzle of cream (or a big dollop of creme fraiche or yogurt), a big spoonful of the curried apples, and a sprinkling of the curried croutons.

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Written by Amy

February 28, 2013 at 6:22 am

Posted in Soups

Tagged with , ,

19 Responses

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  1. Great recipe. I adore celery and always have a big bag of it in the fridge. We use it in everything. My kids like it with cream cheese or peanut butter. Sauteed, steamed or raw I use it all the time. I love to mandolin my celery and add it to salads. Cold chicken salad is not any good without small cubes of crisp celery. I will have to make this soup because celery soup is one of my favorites.

    chefconnie

    February 28, 2013 at 6:38 am

    • Ah Connie, I admire your use of celery! I’d like to cook like that, but I think I’ll have to slowly ease my way into the celery world with this soup. If you end up giving it a try, let me know what you think.

      Amy

      February 28, 2013 at 8:24 am

  2. This is very understated and elegant looking. I love how the croutons catch the light. I recently made a pureed pea soup ala Ina Garten but couldn’t bring myself to post it…it was pretty but very bland and the texture was kind of unappealing, I just couldn’t get it smooth. It also needed a little pizazz…these croutons would have helped.

    • Croutons always save soup for me! And yeah, the textures of soups are definitely a make it/break it thing for me… but thanks for the nice words, Sue.

      Amy

      February 28, 2013 at 8:25 am

  3. I love that cookbook! Those croutons sound absolutely divine. Beauty in a bowl!

    Little Kitchie

    February 28, 2013 at 7:47 am

    • Ah, thank you! it is a great cookbook, isn’t it? Now I’ve got to pay the other non-soup sections of the cookbook the attention they’re due.

      Amy

      February 28, 2013 at 8:26 am

  4. What a humble but delicious sounding soup! And those curried croutons. Yum!

    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    February 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

  5. In case you need your celery fix next time you’re in Portland, there is a bar in north Portland, called the Old Gold, that serves ants on a log as bar snacks. It’s the most awesome thing.

    This soup looks so velvety awesome. Simple soups are so good at capturing the essence of the vegetables. Those croutons don’t hurt either.

    Michelle

    February 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    • Ahh good for that bar! That’s some nerve there. By the way I seriously do have to ask for your top spots in Portland — I shouldn’t leave the area after graduating without fully appreciating some of them.

      Amy

      February 28, 2013 at 7:11 pm

  6. Yeah, celery gets so little love in my kitchen. I don’t think I’ve ever once made it through a whole head. I’ve come close but never quite made it. But maybe with this recipe at my fingertips…

    Regardless, this soup sounds so comforting, just the sort of thing I’d like to cozy up to on one of these wet winter nights soon. Love the idea of the sauteed apples.

    Katie

    February 28, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    • The sauteed curried apples are sweet, and it does make a bowl of this stuff pretty comforting. Haha, and using a whole head of celery isn’t a bad goal to make for the kitchen.

      Amy

      February 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm

  7. this and the last post — great writings and photos. keep getting better. and like this soup, these past posts aren rather unremarkable but really actually fantastic.

    Lindsey

    February 28, 2013 at 6:07 pm

  8. Sometimes the simplest things are the best – in fact I was just posting on that same subject this morning! I love the crispy spiced croutons you’ve popped on top, although I still need to try those roasted chickpeas you posted the other day first!

    thelittleloaf

    March 1, 2013 at 1:42 am

  9. I’m more of a fan of “vegetable mush” soups than any other kind. This one looks very nice!

    Erin

    March 1, 2013 at 5:54 am

  10. I agree, celery is a scorned vegetable indeed. I think everyone must have a bunch minus one stalk sitting at the bottom of their vegetable drawers. Luckily, they’re hardy and seem to last forever. Celery root, on the other hand, is something I don’t think I’ve ever had. Is it the same thing as celeriac? I see them all the time at farmer’s markets, but hardly ever at grocery stores. It’s not just culturally-forsaken places that don’t carry them, apparently. (It can be surprisingly difficult to find things in this great big city, although some might consider Brooklyn to be in its boondocks I guess.)

    I don’t know if I’ve ever tried a recipe for siding-with-the-underdog reasons, but a part of me, the contrarian maybe, derives great pleasure from making decidedly un-hip things, aka foods with humble origins. Love this! And the curried croutons sound wonderful.

    Linda

    March 1, 2013 at 6:12 am

    • Yes–same thing as celeriac. I actually had never tried it before making this recipe. I tried some by itself, and I really like it actually. Celery flavor, but like in a nutty root vegetable sort of way.

      Haha, and thanks Linda. Humble foods are so satisfying—kind of the opposite of what you’d think, but it’s true.

      Amy

      March 1, 2013 at 8:33 am

  11. I think this soup would be so loved here. Michael loves celery, and I do appreciate it too.
    I usually dont have troubles finding celeriac here in winter, but somehow the celery stalks can be rather hard to find.
    I find that in the kitchen, the simple things can be the best. I might make this as long as it is still rather cold here, still soup weather.

    Lena

    March 3, 2013 at 4:46 am

    • Haha! I’m surprised you switched from dating a guy in the past who didn’t even think of eating until dinner to one that loves the flavor of celery! I’m not sure Waylon would try this… anyway, let me know if you do get a chance to make it for you and Michael.

      Amy

      March 3, 2013 at 9:38 am


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