Monday, September 27, 2010

Creamed Celery Root Soup--For the Snobbish Taste

Of all seasons, some people love just summer but, maybe because I was born in Europe, I am a four season person. I love sunny summers, but I also enjoy colder fall days and snowy winters. I love to put a sleeveless dresses on a tan body but, on cold days, I like to find comfort in soft cashmeres. For the same reason I enjoy seasonal food, when it tastes best and matches the weather.

The moment bright sun disappeared from the DC sky and the temperature went below 70 F, I finally had an excuse to make a true fall dish. I went to my local food store and got a big bulb of celery root (also called celeriac). Celery root is not very popular in America, although now it is now increasingly available in some hip stores. It is pricey comparing to celery sticks, which cost one dollar a bunch. Priced per pound, a nice bulb can cost over four dollars, which can buy you a good piece of meat.

For many years that was the only type of celery available in Poland. It is also popular in many other European countries, France including, where it has a long-established culinary tradition. The French appreciate its original taste and make many interesting dishes based on celery root, from salads to main dishes. In Poland we use celery root as a soup ingredient, and--either raw or cooked--also in many salads, most notably, in the popular cooked-vegetable salad with mayonnaise, which in Poland is called Italian salad, but in many other countries, possibly including Italy, it is called Russian salad.

I have at least three interesting celery root recipes, which I will try to share with you on this blog, because in my view this nice vegetable is not yet fully appreciated. Despite its characteristically strong flavor and taste, which you either love or hate, the celery root is not as nutritious as some other vegetables, but it is high in fiber, contains potassium and magnesium, and is a good source of vitamins C and B6. It is also alleged to be particularly good for men's health, but you may wish to confirm that on other (more adult) blogs.

I have recently read an article reporting that, in California, many reputable and snobbish restaurants started to put celery root dishes on their menus. I decided to make a celery soup today, as it is one of very few dishes that my entire family would eat. It is a simple soup with a slightly sweet but not overwhelming taste of celery.

Creamed Celery Root Soup

1 pound celery root,
2 large potatoes,
1 medium onion,
4 cups vegetable stock,
2-3 cups of water,
1 tbsp butter,
3 tbsp oil,
1/4 cup sour cream,
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg,
2 tbsp of any hard blue cheese,
salt and pepper.

1. Peel the onion, celery and potatoes, and cut them into small cubes.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and fry until transparent.
3. Add celery and potatoes to onion and fry together until potatoes become transparent too--slightly soft, but not entirely cooked.
4. Salt the vegetables and add enough water just to cover them.
5. Simmer until all the ingredients become soft.
6. Now add vegetable stock, nutmeg, pepper and boil the soup for 3 minutes.
7. Add cream and butter to the soup.
8. Using food processor or blender make a light purée (creamed soup) from the soup.

Divide among bowls, decorate with blue cheese, and serve with white French or Italian bread.

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