Celery root is a glorious and seriously under-appreciated fall vegetable. I rarely see them available in groceries, and they are scarce even at the farmers’ market. Also known as celeriac, this homely root vegetable has a surprisingly mellow and complex flavor that will remind you of celery crossed with herbal and earthy notes. Because I have never been a fan of cooked celery (raw is great), I avoided celery root for many years. I was missing out. Excellent roasted, long-simmered, or made into oven chips, celery root is versatile, delicious, and much lower in carbs than most root vegetables. If you see one for sale, grab it and give it a try.
This is the two-pound root that went in to this soup: note that you do not want to use the blunt bits of greenery at the top–they are much tougher than regular celery stalks. Wash off the bits of clinging soil, peel the whole thing, and dice it up.
I paired this with leeks because we had some lovely ones from our last C.S.A. share of the season, and because the flavors play well together. If you don’t have any nice leeks you could substitute shallots or sweet onion.
My soup preferences run towards thicker, bisque-like textures, so if you prefer something soupier just add some additional water after you have blended the soup. Because celery root is naturally higher in salt than most vegetables I would not add any salt until the soup is complete. Taste and add salt at the end if the bacon and celery root are not adequate.
- 1 large celery root, about 2 pounds
- 2 large leeks
- 4 slices organic, pastured bacon
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Wash and peel the celery root and then cut it into chunks. For the leeks, cut off the tough, green ends, leaving only the white and pale green half of the leek. Cut the white half of the leeks lengthwise down the center. Run each of these pieces under water, rinsing out any trapped sand or dirt in the layers. Dice these up.
- In a 5-quart pot, heat the chopped bacon over medium-high heat. Cook it until crisp and then remove half of the bacon pieces to drain on paper towels. Leave the rest in the pot. Add the chopped celery root, leeks, water, and ground white pepper to the pot and let it come to a low boil. Simmer the soup for 20-30 minutes, or until the celery root is very tender when pierced with a knife.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the soup smooth, or blend in batches in a stand blender (if you use a stand blender, remove the center hole from the cover and do not overfill the blender).
- Top each portion of soup with some of the reserved bacon.
The salt content of the bacon and the celery root are also why I use water instead of stock for this–plus, chicken stock tends to be a dominant flavor, and I wanted the flavors of the vegetable to come through. If you want to use stock instead of water I would recommend a light vegetable stock.
Thanks for reading,