I will come right out and say I love celery and its root, celeriac. Love them to bits and happily crunch away on both of them. But they have a bad reputation; the stalks seem forever associated with the deprivation of a rigid low calorie diets, and celeriac usually evokes a puzzled look and a comment about how ugly it is.
Wrong, just wrong. Good celery is a staple ingredient for soffritto in Italian cooking and mirepoix in the French canon but the critical word there was “good”. I am sorry to say that so much of what is sold in the UK comes from Spain and is weak, feeble and hollow. Honestly, I’ve had Spanish celery – and Israeli come to that – you could use as drinking straws. The stalks shouldn’t be hollow and yellowy, and a good head of celery will feel quite heavy for its size. Oh and smell fresh and very celery-ry.
It is true to say that there is both green and white celery, but don’t mistake pathetic yellowing specimens for the delicious blanched Fenland celery that can be had in the UK during November and December. This has a strong distinctive flavour and like asparagus, has a short season, so do make the most of it while we have it.
Green celery is available more widely but UK grown, flavourful celery seems mostly available September to April and I have it my fridge most weeks during that time, with an interregnum for the Fenland crop.
This unsung hero is just so useful; I put it in risotto, lentils, soups, quinoa, couscous, stews and casseroles, not to mention cutting short lengths, filling with Gorgonzola and dusting with paprika. I know it sounds a bit Abigail’s Party, but I love it! It also earns a place on a cheese board with grapes and figs, which frankly I prefer over biscuits after a meal. I also use the leaves chopped up as one would a herb, but go gently as the celery flavour is very concentrated here.
Anyway, the celery I had from https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/8012/products was just gorgeous and although a fair amount was eaten with the lovely Slipcote cheese, I had enough left for this lovely soup which has a distinctly celery flavour and is creamy in texture, without needing the addition of any dairy (although you can add it if you want to!).
Celery SoupPrint Recipe
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp mild olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into small dice
- 1 small clove garlic, chopped finely
- 2 small/1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into small dice
- 150g celery stalks, chopped into slices about 0.5mm wide
- 1 slim leek, washed, sliced in two lengthways, then sliced into slender half moons
- leaves stripped from two sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 heaped tsp Marigold reduced salt bouillon
- 1 litre hot water
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
Heat the butter and oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion and garlic
Allow to soften but not colour and add the remaining vegetables and thyme
Soften for about 15 minutes but do not allow to colour
Add the Marigold powder, mix in and then slowly add the water
Season and mix well, bringing to a simmer but don’t let it boil
Simmer gently with the lid askew for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and can be easily squashed against the side of the pan
Cool slightly and use a stick blender to process until smooth; the addition of potato will give the soup a very smooth, almost creamy texture so you don’t have to add dairy to finish the soup
My favourite finish are garlic croutons and in the picture, you will see a small swirl of Jersey milk, but in truth, it was gilding the lily. This freezes well, but freeze minus any dairy you might want to use.