3.21.10 Rooting Around

Celeriac3 790 xxx
photo by george billard
I love staring into the fridge and trying to make sense of its sometimes overwhelming contents. All those ingredients are like a puzzle that, with a little clever thinking and some inspiration from the muse, can come together into something beautifully cohesive. Remember that corned beef I made for St. Patrick’s Day? Well, I was left with a lot of gorgeous beef broth that I had strained and stuck in a jar. And I had a beautiful large bulb of celeriac from our trip to the farm last weekend, and a hunk of smoked Gouda from the smokehouse. (Actually too intensely smoky to eat plain!) I could have made a gratin—celeriac is great like that—but with all that good broth I decided to make a soup. The result was incredibly easy and velvety-rich. I recommend you give it a try before we move on to the asparagus and sorrel soups of spring.
Celeriac (Apium graveolens rapaceum), also known as celery root, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery, is, in fact, a kind of celery, grown for its bulbous root rather than for its stems and leaves. Unlike other root vegetables, it’s only about 5-6% starch by weight. Celeriac is a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and a very good source of vitamin C and phosphorus. Delicious raw or cooked, with a light celery flavor, it can be mashed, made into gratins or grated into slaws. The classic French preparation, a rémoulade, is divine with crab cakes. Stored between 32 and 41 degrees, celeriac normally keeps well for up to four months and thus is a staple of the winter pantry.SMOKY CELERIAC SOUPserves 4I made the cream optional because it’s not really necessary, though it is delicious! 1 large celery root, peeled1 medium potato, peeled (Yukon Gold is good)1 small onion, peeled and sliced thin4 cups beef stock (or substitute vegetable stock)¼ cup finely grated smoked Gouda¼ cup finely grated Parmesan¼ cup heavy cream, optional¼ teaspoon pimentón, mild or spicy1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and choppedsea saltRoughly chop the celery root and potato, then combine with onion and beef stock in a medium-sized, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, at least 30 minutes. Cool slightly before pureeing in food processor, or with an immersion blender. In same pot, heat soup and stir in cheeses, cream (if using) and pimentón. Add salt, if needed. Garnish with chopped walnuts.