This simple soup comes together with a minimum of fuss, partly because it's based on so few ingredients. Though the list is short and simple, the final bowl of soup delivers unexpectedly complex flavors thanks to celery root's way of lending a starchy, potato-like quality as well as an aromatic element. Leeks, too, behave like onions, but with subtlety, panache, and fresh flavor thanks to the light green part of the plant. The chicken contributes a meaty substance, for sure, but it is easily omitted for a fine vegetarian bowl of cold-weather comfort.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 celery root, peeled and diced
- 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, quartered and sliced
- 5 cups chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock (homemade is best)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven, season the chicken thighs with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper, add to the pot and cook about five minutes per side, until the skin is brown. Remove and discard the skins, and transfer to a plate, and reserve. Do not drain the chicken fat from the pot.
Add the celery root to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the sliced leeks and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook another 10 minutes. Add the stock and the reserved chicken thighs, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, for about 30 minutes.
Pull the chicken pieces from the soup, and use two forks to pull the meat from the bones. Shred the meat and then chop the shreds into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken meat to the soup and add the tarragon and the cream. Taste, adding additional salt and pepper if desired, and ladle into bowls. Serve with sliced baguette and softened butter.