"You've made ugliness beautiful" is Mark Bittman's promise for this recipe. And he's right: the gnarly, knobby look of celeriac (a.k.a. celery root) is pretty unconvincing when you first see it at the market. But inside is the smooth white flesh that can become a luxurious soup.
With the recent chill in the air, I'm already starting on my fondness for pureed soups, which you can make in large quantities to freeze or eat all week long. This recipe is not much of a groundbreaker—you chop the celeriac, sauté it in butter, then puree—but the addition of curry powder and fragrant cumin definitely pairs well with the vegetal, celery flavor. Thanks to the creaminess of celeriac itself, you can get away using milk instead of cream to keep the soup light.
The soup here is on the thin side, which I like, but feel free to cut back on the amount of stock to thicken it up a little bit. For a silkier, less grainy result, you can also put it through a strainer.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1-2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup milk, half and half, or cream, or to taste
- 1/4 cup cilantro or parsley for garnish
Heat the butter in a large saucepan or other heavy pot over medium heat until foaming, then add the onion. Saute for a minute until it begins to soften, then add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion is soft, 3-5 minutes more. Add the curry powder, cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir well into the onions. Cook until the flavors marry and the spices are fragrant but not burned, about one minute more.
Add the celery root and stock and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer until the celery root is tender, 15-20 minutes.
After cooling the mixture slightly, transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in milk, half and half, or cream, to taste. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve garnished with cilantro or parsley.