Friday, October 29, 2010

Celery Root Soup

This is a recipe I've had bookmarked for a year. A whole year. And I finally got around to making it this week. It's a nice, cozy, thick autumn soup made that's perfect for the chilly weather that swooped in this week (it's 31 degrees right now! yikes!). And this soup marks not one, but two firsts for me - cooking with celery root, and knowingly making a vegan recipe. Yes of course I've made plenty of all-veggie dishes, but this one calls for cashew cream instead of regular cream. One little warning - the cashew cream needs to be started a day in advance. I'll explain later.

First, a small lesson. Celery root (also known as celeriac) is a root vegetable, and a type of celery. It's not, as I thought, some underground part of regular celery. It was strange to cut into a brown root vegetable and smell celery. But don't be intimidated by these brown lumpy vegetables! Buy one at your farmers market and make this soup!

Here's what it looks like when you peel and chop it. I used a knife instead of a vegetable peeler, but the skin wasn't too thick so I think either would be fine.

Sea salt
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium celery roots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 quarts faux chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup thick Cashew Cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, very finely diced
Chive oil

Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.

Add the celery root, celery, and onion and sauté for 6 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft but not brown.

Add the stock and bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the Cashew Cream and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, cover the lid with a towel (the hot liquid tends to erupt), and blend on high. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls. Place a spoonful of the diced apple in the center of each serving, drizzle the Chive Oil around the apple, and serve.

Here are the directions for cashew cream and chive oil:

Cashew Cream

1 cup whole raw cashews (not pieces, which are often dry), rinsed very well under cold water

Put the cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place in a blender with enough fresh cold water to just cover them. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. (If you're not using a professional high-speed blender, which creates an ultra-smooth cream, strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve.)

Chive oil

1 small bunch chives
1/2 cup canola oil
Pinch sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Blanch the chives for 30 seconds in boiling water, then drain and chill in an ice bath. Drain, wrap the chives in a towel, and squeeze the moisture out. Place in a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend for 2 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Put the chive oil in a plastic squeeze bottle with a small opening or use a spoon for drizzling it on the soup.

Here's the original recipe by Tal Ronnen if you want to see it. I didn't change anything except the measurements for cashew cream, and some of the directions, because for this soup that's all you'll need. Actually, it will probably give you a little extra. And I skipped the chive oil and just added some fresh chives instead. This soup was easy to make, had a really nice taste and consistency, and I loved the addition of the Granny Smith apples. A great autumn soup.

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