In the childhood snack called ants on a log, celery lightens up rich peanut butter and chewy raisins with its vegetal crunch. And so it is with this soup that riffs on those same flavors, which I've affectionately named "ants on a bog." Although, in this case, there's a bit of a role reversal: In the soup, it's the creamy celery purée that's lightened by tart pickled grapes and an assertive peanut crumble.
Why It Works
- Celery root doubles down on the celery flavor.
- Cornstarch keeps the crumble tender and rich without too much sugar.
- Taking the time to slowly sweat the vegetables and aromatics helps fully develop the flavors.
- Using a blender creates a smooth and creamy soup.
- Adding celery leaves right before blending bumps up the soup's fresh green color.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- For the Pickled Grapes:
- 2/3 cup (150ml) sherry vinegar
- 1/3 cup (75g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10g) kosher salt
- 1 small bunch (about 454g) green or red seedless grapes, peeled or halved (see note)
- For the Peanut Crumble:
- 1/2 cup (135g) creamy unsweetened peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (77g) all-purpose flour
- 6 1/2 tablespoons (52g) confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- For the Celery Soup:
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
- 1 small (250g) yellow onion, diced
- 1 bunch (765g) celery, cut into 1-inch chunks, leaves reserved
- 1 medium (280g) celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 small (195g) tart apple, such as Honeycrisp, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- Kosher salt
- 1 quart (945ml) vegetable stock or water, plus more to adjust
- 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
For the Pickled Grapes: In a small saucepan, bring sherry vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1 cup (240ml) water just to a simmer, to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. Place grapes in a nonreactive heatproof bowl and pour pickling liquid on top. Lay a paper towel directly against surface to submerge grapes. Let grapes marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and preferably overnight.
Meanwhile, for the Peanut Crumble: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a medium mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, butter, flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, salt, dill, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Using your hands, rub together until mixture is thoroughly combined and forms small clumps.
Spread crumble mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Bake, tossing once during baking, until crumble is evenly golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, for the Celery Soup: In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until foamy. Add onion, celery, celery root, apple, and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add vegetable stock or water and simmer until vegetables are completely tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in reserved celery leaves.
Working in batches, ladle vegetables and broth into a blender pitcher, making sure not to fill pitcher more than halfway. Blend soup, starting at low speed and gradually increasing speed to high, until totally smooth. If needed, strain soup through a fine-mesh strainer before returning to pot.
To Serve: Bring soup back to a simmer and add cream. Season with salt and a few tablespoons of the grape-pickling liquid. Serve hot, garnishing with peanut crumble and pickled grapes.