Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Celebrate Celery with Sensational Seasonal Soup
Celery. You know. That green stuff that's usually left on the crudite platter, alone and limp. That ingredient you usually skip in complicated recipes because you don't have it and who wants to buy a whole bunch of celery for a stalk or two and who's going to notice anyway?
Well, I have news for you: celery is actually really delicious.
But! There are two rules for maximum celery deliciousness:
1. Buy quality celery that still has its leaves.
2. Cook it!
When you're making a dish that really features the celery, I recommend seeking it out at a farmers' market, (contrastingly, if you're looking for a vehicle for ants on a log then giant, watery, crispy supermarket celery is the way to go). Farmers' market (organic) celery will usually look a little different: the stalks will likely be much thinner, it will probably be darker green, and it will have a full crown of lovely leaves. This is a wonderful thing. While I find the stalks themselves to be more flavorful, the leaves of the celery are actually the most flavorful part and should be used for cooking. If you buy from a supermarket, they often cut the leaves off entirely or leave just a few. Ask your produce manager to sell celery with leaves!
Okay, so you have quality celery. It will be tasty on its own, but cooking celery really brings out the delicate flavors. Regardless, these are not in your face flavors. A little grassy and floral with just a hint of onion, it is subtlety embodied. But make the time and effort to appreciate this flavor and you will find it most pleasing. This soup is very pleasing, indeed.
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch of paprika
- 1 1/2 c. diced yellow onion
- 3 c. diced celery stalks
- 2 c. roughly chopped celery leaves
- 3 c. water
- zest and juice of 1/4 lemon
- Melt the butter in a large-ish pot and add the onions, celery, salt, a few grinds of pepper, and paprika.
- Cook over medium heat until the onions are transparent, about 15 minutes. Stir as needed.
- Add the 2 c. celery leaves for the last five minutes.
- Add the the water, zest, and lemon juice.
- Cover and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes, (I let it go for an hour).
- Carefully pour the soup into a blender and blend on high until the soup is smooth.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning. I added just a little smoked sea salt.
- Serve plain or with a dollop of greek yogurt and paprika or celery salt for garnish.
If you have leftover celery leaves, dry them for future use! Lay them out on a baking sheet and put in a 250 degree oven for about 5 minutes, until they are dry enough to crumble. You can make celery salt, a lovely garnish, or keep them plain to add a little celery flavor to future dishes.
If you absolutely can't find celery with (enough) leaves, you can still try the recipe but I would add some celery seed, increase the amount of celery stalks, and try to reduce the soup a bit to intensify the flavor.