Celery Root Soup

Wow! Who woulda thunk something so homely could produce something so delicious. Tonight's celery root soup was a big hit with every member of the family with enthusiastic requests to make it again.

Poor celery root would not win any beauty contests. Even its alternate name, celeriac, sounds like a disease, so who could blame anyone for giving it a pass at the grocery store.

Having never cooked with celery root, I had to do some research on the web to figure out how to store it (in the frig, loosely wrapped in plastic), how to peel it (don't bother with a vegetable peeler; instead cut it up like a pineapple; cut off top and bottom, then stand on cut end and make vertical cuts from top to bottom, removing the gnarly, knobbly skin), and how to use it (soups, salads, gratin, braised, just for starters).

I'm hoping to find more celery root in our CSA box as I can't wait to continue our family's culinary adventures. If you've got a favorite celery root recipe, chime in in the Comments section below!

 To clean leeks thoroughly, first cut off the dark green top. Then cut remaining white and light green stalk in half or quarters, lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. As you wash the leek, separate the leaves to remove any dirt or sand in between. If you don't have leeks, just substitute yellow or white onions.

Celery Root Soup 
Serves 4-6 as a first course.

Clean thoroughly:
2 leeks

After washing thoroughly, thinly slice the white and light green part only. (The dark green part is not used in this soup.)

In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute sliced leeks in:
2-3 tablespoons butter or grapeseed oil or combination of the two

When leeks have softened, about 3 minutes, add to stockpot and stir to coat in oil:
1 lb Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1" cubes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 large celery root (approx. 2.5 lbs), peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper

Add and bring to a boil:
3 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and puree soup with an immersion blender. You can also use a blender, but make sure you remove the small cap in the lid and cover the hole with a kitchen towel. Otherwise the built-up heat and steam will blow off the lid. Not fun, trust me, I know!

If soup is too thick, thin with a little water or stock. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Ladle hot soup into bowls and offer following toppings:
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
crispy croutons
chopped parsley
lemon wedges

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