Root vegetables are plentiful in the cold winter months, and this recipe allows celeriac, or celery root, a lesser-known root vegetable, to take star billing. Celeriac will not win any beauty prizes—it is gnarly and has lots of visible hairy roots attached—but it has a lovely, subtle celery flavor that waits underneath its ugly exterior. Even if you dislike celery, as I do, you are likely to find the soft taste of celeriac delicious. Like all root vegetables, celeriac is a good source of fiber and low in calories.
This soup is so much more than the sum of its parts: the celeriac is sweetened up with a bit of parsnip, another non-beauty of the vegetable family, and made luxuriously creamy with the addition of a single waxy potato. The finished soup is so silky and weighty in texture that you will swear it contains cream.
Celeriac Root Soup
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 small celeriac (celery root), peeled and thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1 medium yellow or red waxy potato, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1 medium or 2 small parsnips, peeled, core removed, and thinly sliced (about 2/3 cup)
1 medium leek, white and tender green part only, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
3 cups best quality chicken or vegetable stock
Optional garnish: freshly ground pepper, chopped parsley and/or pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil, butter, celeriac, potato, parsnips, leek, garlic, thyme, sugar, and salt, along with 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on low heat, allowing the vegetables to “sweat” and release their flavors and for the water to nearly evaporate, about 15 minutes.
- Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook an additional 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and pierce easily with the tip of a knife.
- Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor, or process in a food mill. Puree until the mixture is as smooth as you desire. The more you puree, the more elegant the presentation.
- Just before serving, if desired, garnish the soup with freshly ground pepper, chopped parsley, and/or a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
- Vegan Celeriac Soup. Eliminate the butter and use 2 teaspoons of your favorite cooking oil to sweat the vegetables. Substitute a good quality vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
- Celeriac Soup with Vegetables. Use this pureed soup as a base for other soups: add in other vegetables that you have chopped into bite-size pieces and lightly cooked/steamed (carrot coins and broccoli florets look especially nice against the white backdrop of this soup).
- Carrot Soup. Substitute an equal volume of carrots for the celeriac to make a creamy tasting, cream-free carrot soup.
Sweating vegetables in a small amount of fat with water is a great way to coax out their flavor without adding much in terms of calories. The addition of miniscule amounts of olive oil and/or butter provides so much more flavor than simply steaming the vegetables in water.
Root vegetables such as celeriac are low in calories and high in fiber. Celeriac is also a very good source of vitamin C and phosphorous.
For more health information check out the Yoffie Life Food Encyclopedia page on celeriac.
This soup makes for a great first course—consumed at the table with guests or by yourself in the kitchen when you’re preparing the rest of your meal.