Celery Root (Celeriac) and Fennel Soup

by angelika on October 18, 2010

When I was in the check out lane at the grocery store, the cashier glared at my celery roots, and then gave me a puzzled look asking me what I intended to do with them. It made me wonder just how under-appreciated the poor celery root is. I have a strong affinity for this ugly duckling vegetable. What lies beneath its dirty, knobby and rough exterior is a gorgeous lilly white flesh that has a delicate hint of celery mingled among a crisp and aromatic flavor. I often make a raw celeriac salad, which it is one of my favorite sides.

Today the celery root is the star of a soup. This is one of my all time favorite soups. I have made it for Thanksgiving for the last several years, to great acclaim. The thing I like best about this soup is that the only real ingredients are the vegetables, and it is their flavors which are allowed to shine. I think we often put so many seasonings in soups that we can lose the delicate flavor and aroma so many of these vegetables have. 
That gorgeous golden soup is born from these humble ingredients. One knobby celery root, a flowery fennel bulb, some potatoes and an onion or leek. So simple and yet so incredibly rich and nourishing. 
Celery Root and Fennel Soup
1 celery root/celeriac, peeled and cubed
I fennel bulb, diced
2-3 yukon gold potatoes or 3-5 fingerling potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 yellow onion 
1 leek 
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup water 
7 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp pepper 
1 1/2 tsp salt 
Begin by prepping your vegetables. You want to peel and cube the potatoes, and dice the fennel bulb. Discard the tops and the fronds. I usually use 4 leeks for this soup, but today I only had one so I added a yellow onion. Chop your leeks and/or onion. To clean the celery root you cut down all the sides with a knife to get rid of all the skin. Then dice like you would any other root. 
peeled celery root
Heat your 2 tablespoons of butter or butter replacement, (I really love Earth Balance) if you are making a vegan soup, with 1/2 cup water. Add all of the vegetables to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir a few times during the 15 minutes. 
before
after 15 minutes

Add 7 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once the soup boils reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes. 
Remove the soup from heat and blend in batches in a blender. A food processor won’t work well for this job as the vegetables are pretty fibrous and you want them broken down really well. A food mill would probably be the best thing to use, but I don’t have one, so the blender it is. 
Return the blended soup to the pot, on low heat, and season with salt and pepper. 
There are several ways to finish this soup. You can just eat it as is, it is delicious, but to my mind it hasn’t reached it’s potential.  Some of my favorite ways to finish this soup are:
  • 1 tablespoon of creme fraîche, chives and a truffle oil drizzle (per serving)
  • 1 tablespoon of chèvre and a truffle oil drizzle (per serving)
  • 1/2 cup cream for the pot
  • 1/4 cup creme fraîche for the pot
  • I have had great success using plain soy creamer as well as So Delicious Coconut Creamer as vegan options. The thing to note with the vegan options, is that sometimes the soup doesn’t reheat as well when you use them. The plant based creams break up when reheated. So prepare to eat the whole pot at once, or add a small amount of creamer to each serving. 

doesn’t the creme fraîche look like India? 
A votre santé!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

NonnyN November 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

This looks delicious-my cold feels better just looking at the picture!!! I am definitely making this today

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