Friday, December 14, 2007
Celeriac & Parsley Soup - a Soothing Recipe
Celery is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean, and it still grows wild there in wetter areas. Not the celery you’ll find in your Waldorf salad, that is, but a leafier, blossom-covered variety, sometimes known as smallage, whose seeds have long been used medicinally and as a flavoring agent.
Celery as we now know it was being eaten in France by the early 17th century, and celery root – or celeriac – showed up about the same time.
I love celeriac this time of year for its cooling, clean flavor. Grated raw for salads or simmered down into simple soups, it makes a soothing remedy for the excesses of the season. Here I add a generous amount of parsley, which belongs to the same family as celery and was believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to prevent intoxication. Very useful indeed if you’re feeling a bit woozy from the previous night’s revels!
I like this soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of good olive oil, but you can dress it up for company by swirling a little white truffle oil over each bowl instead. A few shavings of fresh truffle over the top would be exquisite, if you happen to have some about.
extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced into half-moons
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
2 ½ lbs celery root, peeled and sliced no thicker than ½ inch slices
6 cups chicken stock
1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, rinsed well, stems trimmed
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a glug of olive oil. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is transluscent. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Add the celery root slices and the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the celery root is very tender.
Strain the soup into a large bowl and place the solids in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until a smooth purée forms – you may need to ladle in some of the cooking liquid to help along the process here.
Put the purée back in the cooking pot and ladle in the cooking liquid until the desired consistency is reached – you may want to use all the liquid, but go slowly just incase. Reheat the soup over medium-low heat, stirring often. Season with lemon juice, black pepper, and plenty of salt. Serve hot with yogurt and olive oil or truffle oil and truffle slices.