Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Celery is like the ugly duckling of vegetables. It is a pale green color, plain and stringy. Often, it’s just used as a vessel to scoop up something else like hummus or peanut butter.

I’ve mainly used it for 3 things: soup bases, stocks and stuffing. I use several stalk. Then the rest of the celery wilts, dies in the bottom of my produce drawer and leaves behind a nasty mess.

Not anymore. The other day I was lucky to find some amazing local celery from Antalya. The stalks are much skinnier and full of leafy greens at the top than the celery you usually find in the grocery stores back in the U.S.

This celery reminded me of the local kind we would get sometimes from the farmer’s market in Baltimore, MD. My executive chef at Charleston (where I used to work as the pastry chef) would make this seemingly simple, but delicious celery soup. The soup often was served in Bernardaud white espresso cups as part of the amuse bouche for guests at the restaurant.

I decided I wanted to make that kind of soup. I asked my former chef for a little advice and then I created the recipe below from her suggestions.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the soup. It’s so simple and delicious. I topped off our cups with a drizzle of black truffle oil (bought from last year’s trip to Paris) and homemade baguette croutons. The soup’s texture wasn’t as smooth as I would like since I don’t own a blender. I just used my immersion blender to puree the soup as best I could.

Even my husband was surprised at the flavor. “I didn’t know celery could be so tasty,” he told me.

If you find some local celery at your market, try making this easy soup.

Local Celery Soup
Serves: 4 to 6
2-3       T.         unsalted butter
12        oz.       local celery diced small, with a good amount of the leaves
6          oz.       onion, diced small
1          qt.        chicken stock or water
1          ea.        bay leaf
TT                    salt and pepper
½         c.         whole milk or heavy cream
1          c.         small diced cubes of French baguette, preferably cut from stale bread

1. In a 4- to 6-quart pot over a medium-high burner, place the butter, onions and celery; and sauté until the vegetables start to sweat, approximately 7 to 10 minutes.
2. Season this mixture with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and cover with the stock. Turn down the heat, place a lid on top of the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Then, add the milk or cream.
4. Carefully, puree the soup in batches in a blender and strain for a smoother texture. Alternatively, use an immersion blender and puree as smooth as possible.
5. To make the croutons, place a bit of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the bread. Quickly, toss the pan to move around the croutons until they start to develop a golden brown color. Pour out the croutons onto a plate or tray so they don’t continue to cook.
6. To serve, place the soup in cups or bowls. Drizzle the soup with truffle oil or a high quality olive oil instead. Garnish with several croutons.

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Sippy Cup Central said...

I will try this! Karen
Sippy Cup Central