Search This Blog

Monday, November 22, 2010

Celeriac Leek Soup with Crumbled Blue Cheese

This simple soup is an easy but elegant starter. Make it ahead and serve it up on Thanksgiving for an unexpected yet seasonal first course.

Celeriac is an unusual root vegetable. It has a gnarled exterior and a green leafy top. Inside, the flesh is clean and crisp and white, and it's flavor is slightly nutty and reminiscent of celery. Look for bulbs that weigh in under a pound and have a firm stalk end. To prepare celeriac, cut off the top and bottom, then slice off the rest of the peel. (Because the peel has an uneven texture, I find it easiest to do this with a knife.)

I picked fingerling potatoes for this recipe because they were irresistible at the farmer's market this week and because their creamy texture works well with this soup. You can substitute another variety of potato if you wish, but make sure to leave the peel intact because that's where all the nutrients and fiber are found.

I garnished this soup with a wet and creamy Bleu D'Auvergne, but you could use another variety of blue cheese if you wish. You could substitute crumbled goat cheese if you prefer, but the striking flavor of blue cheese is a perfect compliment for this nutty but mild soup.

If you don't like blue cheese or don't eat dairy, garnish it instead with pine nuts lightly toasted on the stove top or grains of cooked wild rice. For a vegan version, substitute extra virgin olive oil for the butter and use vegetable broth as the cooking liquid.

-2 tbsp grass-fed butter
-3 medium leeks or 2 large leeks, white and tender green parts, about 5 cups chopped (reserve the tough green tops for soup stock)
-Sea salt
-2 celeriac bulbs, trimmed and diced, about 2 heaping cups
-1 dozen fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-cm chunks (similar in size to the diced celeriac), about 2 heaping cups
-5 cups cooking liquid: chicken stock, duck stock, vegetable broth or bean broth
-1 bay leaf

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté until soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the celeriac and potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the bay leaf and cooking liquid, more if needed to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft.

Remove the bay leaf and purée the soup with an immersion blender or by transferring the soup in batches to a stand blender (in this case, cool the soup a bit before blending and cover loosely to prevent a heat explosion).

Serve immediately or cool completely and transfer to an airtight container in the fridge for future use.

Garnish each bowl with crumbled blue cheese.

No comments: