Swept Off My Feet

November 2, 2008

Celeriac (or celery root, if that name is more to your liking) has been courting me for some time. At first, it threw come-hither looks my way from its perch in the produce section at Whole Foods, tucked among the rough-and-tumble root vegetables, many of which sport long, floppy, leafy mohawks and all of which are spotted with clumps of earth. It was round, but not perfectly so, with a mottled pale flesh brushed with light strokes of lime green. It was an unlikely suitor, but, still, I was intrigued.

Next, it caught my eye at the farmers’ market, where it sat in a heap next to bundles of the tiniest celery I’d ever seen. There were even a couple bulbous rounds of celeriac with the celery still attached, which led to quite an aha! moment (sort of like studying one of those illustrated diagrams of a cow, showing where each cut of meat comes from). You could say we made eyes at each other, that celeriac and me. But, something about it made me shy (how does one prepare it? what would it taste like?) and I ended up going home alone.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

It was Kevin, of all people, who sealed the deal between celeriac and me. At dinner a couple weekends ago, he began his meal with a bowl filled with a creamy celery root and apple soup. He passed a spoonful across the table to me and, one slurp later, I was smitten. It was impossibly delicate and lush, given its rough-around-the-edges appearance in its raw state. It was also bright and grassy, flavors I scarcely expected in these chilly fall days. And it harmonized beautifully with the sweetly tart taste of stewed apples. I couldn’t wait to try recreating it at home.

So, I didn’t. I bought some celery root the very next day, and sliced off its rugged jacket to reveal it’s smooth white interior. I diced it up and cooked it, along with peeled apple chunks and diced onions, in a melted pat of butter until the pot’s once-opaque contents had faded into near-translucence. Then I tipped a splash of white wine and a container of chicken stock into the pot, brought the mix to a slow bubble and plunked a lid down on top of it all—but not before dropping in a few sprigs of thyme. This concoction simmered until the apples and celery root were fork-tender and then went into the blender, where I whizzed it into soup. I finished it off with a splash of buttermilk, which made the flavors perk up, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, which made the whole thing feel very luxe.

As you know, I’ll say so myself: It was a pretty good recreation. And I think it was also the beginning to a relationship that will keep me warm all winter long.

Celery Root-and-Apple Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled celery root (from one 1 1/4-pound celery root)
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled cored Granny Smith apples (from about 2 medium)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup buttermilk
fine-grain sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup snipped chives, for garnish
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add celery root, apples, and onion. Cook until apples and some of celery root are translucent (do not brown), stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add wine, broth and thyme. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer covered until celery root and apples are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot and stir in the buttermilk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with snipped chives and a drizzle of olive oil.


14 Responses to “Swept Off My Feet”

  1. sue bette Says:

    Last fall we had a similar celery root soup at the restaurant I worked at – it was my favorite lunch! It is perfect topped with the olive oil – love the pictures!

  2. ann Says:

    I *heart* celery root, especially in soups and salads and hashes and pancakes and and and… I can’t wait to try my hand at growing some soon. Glad you’re in the club now (b/c there is a Celeriac Club you know!)

  3. Kari Says:

    I love make Celeriac and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. They work so well together. This soup looks delicious. I want to try it!

  4. Whitney Says:

    This soup almost looks too beautiful to eat. I don’t think I have ever tried celery root but I will have to add it to the list.

  5. Dawn in CA Says:

    Homemade soup is one of my favorite things about fall and winter. I have never cooked celeriac, either, but this delicious-looking recipe is flirting with me, too!

  6. andie Says:

    hmmm another new veggie for me to try!!!

  7. veggiebelly Says:

    This looks so elegant and beautiful! Ive never had celeriac before, now im tempted to try your recipe ! love your photos 🙂

  8. Amy Says:

    I looooove celeriac, and it is *perfect* with apples. A great, great flavor combo. Love the blank white canvas of soup drizzled with the olive oil…

  9. Rose-Anne Says:

    Wow, what a wonderful post! I feel like you passed ME a spoonful of your soup. My best cooking friend and I have been debating the celery root question; I think you have finally tipped me in the direction of trying it.

    I’m such a softie when it comes to soup. Thanks for the recipe.

    By the way, I noticed in your post you talked about sauteing the olive et al. in olive oil but the recipe calls for butter at that step. Any thoughts?

  10. Rose-Anne Says:

    Ah, a mistake! I meant onions et al., not “olive et al.” in my previous comment. So much for proofreading!

  11. holler Says:

    What a delicious sounding soup! I had never thought of adding it to my soup before. Good thinking 🙂

  12. Dana Says:

    Celery root is soooo good! I make a celery root puree that I love. I am a soup fanatic, however, so I definitely need to bookmark this recipe.

  13. Bev Says:

    mmm. when Ollie was weaning I gave him pureed celeriac all the time and also mashed some in with potato for our dinner but never thought to try this. I must though as the apple sounds like the best pairing!

  14. sue bette: Thanks!

    ann: Pancakes! Excellent idea.

    Kari: I recently made a mashed potato recipe involving both (and mascarpone!). Delicious.

    Whitney: Try it!

    Dawn: Are you saying my celeriac is cheating on me?

    andie: Just when you think you’ve tried them all …

    veggiebelly: I hope you give it a try!

    Amy: Thanks!

    Rose-Anne: Thank you for pointing that out. I cleared it up!

    holler: Thanks!

    Dana: I hope you try it!

    Bev: Lucky kid!

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