Love for Ugly Vegetables {CtBF}

Celery root aka celeriac, that gnarly gritty bulbous vegetable.  Celery root is rather intimidating to look at, but inside is an ivory root vegetable that’s a savory treat.  As the name implies, celery root and celery are related.  They are two different forms of celery.  In the case of celery root, its variety has been developed for the edible root.  The stalks and leaves are edible too, chock full of celery flavor, though typically the stalks are spindly, not substantial, the way a head of celery grows.

From March through November, I work as a volunteer at Lexington Community Farm on Thursday mornings.  My tasks are varied, focused in the greenhouse during the winter months, moving to the fields as the season unfolds.  Last week, I helped bag up vegetables for the farm’s post-season bulk fall vegetable sale.  I was productive, bagging up 460 pounds of carrots (in 10 pound bags), 45 pounds of garlic (in 1 pound bags), and 55 pounds of celery root (in 5 pound bags) and a few more things that I can’t remember.

When I left, one of the farmers offered me a bucket of celery root that had been harvested the previous week so wasn’t up to snuff for selling in the stand.  I’m not sure whether I knew this week’s recipe selection for Cook the Book Fridays at the time, but I happily accepted.

Celery root soup with horseradish cream and ham chips provides a perfect way to make a dent in my supply of celery root.  The soup itself couldn’t be easier.  Diced (and peeled!) celery root is added to sautéed leeks along with water, thyme sprigs, a bay leaf and salt and simmered until the celery root is tender.  After removing the bay leaf and thyme stems, the mixture is pureed in the blender.  Voilà!

The result is a smooth ivory bowl of soup, which on its own is somewhat bland.  However, it serves as a willing palette for garnishes.  And the garnishes supplied in this recipe are outstanding.

First, we have the ham chips which are a giant step up from bacon bits.  I used thin slices of prosciutto, baked until leathery, about 10 minutes.  They crisped up a bit more as they cooled.  I coarsely chopped them.

Next, we have horseradish cream.  I went with the crème fraîche option.  The recipe instructs you to beat the crème fraiche with a whisk until it becomes stiff.  Because the crème fraiche has a lot of body to begin with, I was highly skeptical that whisking it would do anything.  In fact, after whisking for a few minutes, it didn’t noticeably thicken.  I kept at it, and, all of a sudden had soft peaks, similar to whipped cream.  Interesting.  To finish it off, horseradish, salt and lemon juice are added for a piquant topping.

I really enjoyed this one.  As I said, I found the “naked” soup boring, but with a dollop of horseradish cream and a sprinkle of ham chips, it is truly wonderful.

To work through the rest of my celery root, I plan to try David Lebovitz’s Céleri Rémoulade recipe and this celery root gratin.  Any other suggestions from fellow celery root fans?

You can find the recipe for the soup on page 106 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  My friends at Cook the Book Fridays will also have something to say about their own renditions of the soup here.

Lest I forget, the highlight of my week last week wasn’t packing vegetables (though Thursday morning at the farm is typically my favorite part of the week).  The best part was a quick visit from my blogging friend Mary of Lights On Bright No Brakes.  During her 30-hour stop in Boston, we cooked dinner together and spent the good part of a day perusing the galleries at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.  We even snuck in coffee and pastries with our old pal Tricia (daughter of Ro from Chez Nana) from French Fridays who was also in town.  Here’s Mary and me in the Takashi Murakami exhibit.  We loved his vibrant colors and sense of fun.



Posted on 3 November 2017, in Cook The Book Fridays, my paris kitchen, Soup and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. What wonderful post contents, made much more special with the lovely picture of you and Mary! Can celery root be frozen (raw or par-cooked?). I am looking forward to eating it raw in a salad! Looks like I have to give making the horseradish cream from scratch a go, soon!

  2. A week packed with harvesting, cooking, Mary’s visiting and museum going, how wonderful your week have been? Love all the pictures, each with a story behind it. I enjoy reading your post.

  3. A great picture of you and Mary. How I wish I could have joined all of you, it would have been fun. This recipe was interesting, I enjoyed it, and tonight I am going to try adding cooked crisp bacon to it and see how that works.

  4. Oh, Betsy, didn’t we have fun. I am still smiling about our 30-hours together (although, with Tricia’s help, we packed in a week’s worth of activities and conversation). Thanks for taking me to your Farm. I’m impressed with your bagging ability and also with the amazing work you’ve done all summer. I will be making the celery root soup tomorrow. I remember using celery root for the first time with a recipe of Dorie’s. I bet the horseradish cream and the chips will be techniques I’ll use with other recipes. Just so wonderful to see you. I’ve been “on line” at the Boston MFA link and almost have all of John Singer Sargent’s motifs identified.

  5. Love love love this post and of course that visit with you and Mary at Flour Bakery was a truly fabulous event. A surprise for Mary, which evidently did turn out to be a complete surprise (not easy to accomplish lol) meeting up with you both was a spectacular success that is now a very precious memory. Thanks for colluding with me ;)

    The celery root soup 🍲 is very intriguing but I especially enjoying hearing about your volunteering. Wow that is some workload ! It was only through cooking Dorie Greenspan’s recipes that I even learned of celery root (and found out how it delicious the mashed version is).

    Hugs from Philly and looking forward to more adventures when I am back to visit Beantown ❤️

  6. So wonderful that you got to meet up with Mary and Tricia. Also: ham chips on everything!

  7. This soup was the perfect way to use some of your celery root. I agree that the toppings really were the star. How fun that you got to visit with Mary and Tricia!

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