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a soup of celery and blue cheese

CeleryAndRootSoup-3

Celery: a humble veggie, commonplace, entirely taken for granted, under appreciated for all she contributes in the kitchen,  from soups to stews, sauces to stuffings.  She’s no  head-turner but she’s no slouch either.  There’s a certain grace about her, if you’ll take the time to notice. Still, who sings  celery’s praises?

The homely bulbous root of the plant from which she rises (almost proudly) is the sort of thing boys, desperate for a game, would kick around a vacant lot,.  Or, even worse, the sort of “good-for-nothing” that’s tossed to the compost. We have far better things in mind.

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We recently had a simmering bowl of soup, just right for the changing season, while on a dream trip to the Scottish Highlands. Dipping our spoons into this delicate green, almost featherweight, soup, bringing it to our lips, our wide eyes fixed on each others’ and we audibly sighed, in unison. We hadn’t expected anything like this at all. Which is why I want to talk to you about it, because maybe you wouldn’t have either.

The chef came out to our table after dinner and we asked after the soup. After falling all over him with our compliments, I vowed I’d try (though certainly fall short) of that exquisite bowlful. The chef had created an airiness to this brew by actually injecting air into it. A number of ways you could do this –  use an aerating wand made for the purpose, whir it extra long in your powerful blender, or use an emersion blender…or the steaming wand from an espresso machine. They each work pretty well it turns out. But, being practical, like a good Scot, it’s not a  necessary step. The bowl is just as delicious without it (though maybe just slightly less Cloud 9-ish.)

A note on the cheese: Apparently celery and English Stilton blue are commonly found together at Christmastime in the UK. Stilton would be fine here, but for this soup, you might prefer a saltier, bluer cheese, like Roquefort. We do.

CeleryAndRoot-2

I’ve promised you (and me) simple things for the season, and this my friends is simple….

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Celery & Blue Cheese Soup

celery – a large head

onion – medium

celery root – half a head, about 9 ounces (250g)

butter – a thick slice – OR – fruity mild olive oil – a good drizzle

chicken stock – 4 cups (1 liter)  – see NOTE

bay leaf – 1 large or 2 small

blue cheese – 4½ ounces (125g)

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CeleryAndRootSoup-1

NOTE:  A vegetable broth may be substituted but you’ll want to be careful that it’s not a powerfully flavored  one or the gentle distinction of this soup will be lost…and that would be such a shame!

Wash the celery stocks carefully  and chop coarsely. Peel the outside of the celery root and onion and chop. (No need to be fancy.)

Into a deep and wide pan over medium heat, drizzle the olive oil or drop in the slice of butter. Add the vegetables and sauté for about 20 minutes, or until relatively soft. Pour in the stock, add the bay leaf, a dash of white pepper (if you have it) and a good pinch of salt. (Remember that the stock contains salt, and so does the cheese, so be light-handed with it at this point.) Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Place into a blender or food processor. (If you have a powerful VitaMix, bring it out.) Process for a good while as these vegetables are naturally a bit stringier than some others and you want velvet.

You have a choice at this point: Add all the cheese to the pureed soup, and whir again. Add most of it but reserve a bit for scattering on top when serving. Or, divide the cheese into four portions and drop into each of four bowls their share. Stir, but not to completely melt the cheese, allowing each person the pleasure.CeleryAndRootSoup-3

This is a good soup to serve with walnut bread and white wine. Or serve with a green salad with walnut and crisp apple. It makes 4 servings, but as an appetizer course, will go farther.CeleryAndRootSoup-1

For a printable copy, click here.

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This recipe is slightly adapted from one by Nigel Slater, a man who knows his vegetables. (Tender, a wonderful book.) 

46 Comments Post a comment
  1. spreesgratefulguineapig #

    Spreesie…. you’re back!! Well you know me I love a good soup. My furry brethren spend all their time munching on roots but the evolved ones transform the ingredients. That’s exactly what you’ve done with this luscious soup. Subtle colors, lovely texture and great flavor. Yumm.

    Welcome back !

    October 6, 2013
    • Aw thanks so much Guinea! You always say the nicest things! (And you’re looking very dapper these days – what’s this I hear about you getting a kilt?) :)

      October 7, 2013
      • I’ve been trying to convince Richard to honor the pinch of Scottish in his roots with a leg-flattering kilt, too. Maybe if we get to go to Scotland together one day I’ll win! So glad you got to go, for the family joys, for the dandy kilt donning, and for this gorgeous soup’s inspiration. I *love* celery and will certainly try this recipe! Thanks!
        xoxo

        October 8, 2013
  2. celeri is to veggies what parsley is to herbs: neglected and underestimated ….

    October 6, 2013
    • I couldn’t agree more! Thank you Catherine for putting it so well !

      October 7, 2013
  3. I so agree about celery–there is a certain clean quality to the taste and I always have organic celery hearts available in my crisper. I can imagine how good this tastes but one experiment I’d like to try would be to sprinkle a tablespoon of finely chopped sweet red peppers in the middle of the bowl before serving to give the soup both a splash of bright color as well as a nice bit of crunchy texture.

    October 6, 2013
    • Thank you Joe. One of the things that’s really lovely about this soup is the mouth-feel. And there’s nothing to interrupt those serene spoonfuls, which, to me (in this case at least) is a good thing. But if one wanted a bit of “texture” or crunch, what I’d be more apt to do is add either very small toasted croutons, or very small-diced tart crisp apple (like 1/8″ size.) But I DO appreciate your comment!

      October 7, 2013
  4. Very nice recipe indeed and lovely pictures. I always have celery in the kitchen but rarely make celery soup..I’ll change that:)

    October 6, 2013
    • Thanks Roger. This soup is quite sublime!

      October 7, 2013
  5. How lovely to have you back …. haven’t been around myself very a lot neither. Great to enjoy your writting and photos again. Not a blue cheese fan plus I get blisters in my mouth when eating it. Otherwise I just LOVE cheese! Welcome back!

    October 7, 2013
    • Thank you Viveka, very nice to see you too! And goodness! We wouldn’t want blisters on those pretty lips of yours! :) Move along quickly to another soup!

      October 7, 2013
      • Thank you so much …. I love soups!!!! But I don’t do them very often. I prefer when others do them for me. *smile
        You know me .. retired chef – lazy and comfortable.
        So nice to have you back.

        October 7, 2013
  6. MMMMMM I love celery in soup. It must pair very well with blue cheese too. Sorry I haven’t commented for a while – whirlwind six month n all! Looking great though.

    October 7, 2013
    • I’ve hardly been on earth for about that long myself Nick! No worries, ever! Nice to see you this morning! :)

      October 7, 2013
  7. Your soup sounds fantastic. You are right about celery…it is an underused vegetable.

    October 7, 2013
    • The words that come to mind with this soup (and I don’t mean to overuse alliteration!) are serene, sublime! (I know your tastes, at least somewhat Karen, and I think you’d really appreciate it.)

      October 7, 2013
  8. I can’t wait to try this soup, and I wonder whether the taste of the blue cheese is discernible, or whether it blends in with the flavors of celery and onion, becoming the mystery ingredient that no one can quite place.

    October 7, 2013
    • Mornin’ Ronnie! Well, you’ve touched on the very thing! If you leave blue cheese for on top, or have only slightly melted bits within the soup, it’ll be delicate but discernible. If you blend it thoroughly, it becomes closer to a seductive mystery. If you try it, will you let me know which you decided your soup to be? :)

      October 7, 2013
  9. So true about celery! Under-appreciated and misunderstood. Mmm, the balance of its mellow with the sharp smooth tang of the bleu. Well, you’re so much better at describing taste, but this soup sounds amazing! And it is so pretty with that white wine. xoxo

    October 7, 2013
    • Twould be quite insulting to be celery I think! To contribute so much, without ego or bravado, and yet to not be given the chance to show what you’re truly capable of once unleashed,…well, lets just say, it wouldn’t be easy! I do not envy that vegetable!

      October 7, 2013
  10. Can I make a confession?
    Try as I may, I can’t seem to get myself to like celery. (I know, I know. They should take my food blogging licence away . Not liking celery ,beets or spinach)
    Maybe it is just that I have never had them prepared in a way I would like.
    I will pin this for when I am feeling brave :)
    It is so good to have you back Spree

    October 7, 2013
    • Thank you so much Sawsan. No shame should cross your brow for a dislike of certain foods! (Though, yes, you should lose your license! :) ) And largely I do agree with you about our distaste of certain foods resulting from them being prepared badly early in our eating histories. But spinach, Sawsan – maybe you want to take this opportunity to confess? – I see you preparing it lately and feeding it to your kids…and i do NOT see you holding your nose. : )

      October 10, 2013
  11. pete clemente #

    Good to have you back.

    October 7, 2013
  12. jandawilli #

    Blue cheese ON and IN a soup, what could be better?! This recipe gives me the perfect excuse to head down the street to the Rogue Creamery, for which the mister will indeed thank you. Will definitely be making this in the very near future. Thank you for sharing!!

    October 7, 2013
    • This soup has your name on the “label” Ali! xo

      October 10, 2013
  13. Spree, it’s so nice to have you back! I used to hate celery, then came to love it raw, and now I’m dying to try this soup…it looks so creamy and savory, especially with the blue cheese added. We’re now entering soup season and I’m on the hunt for new tastes, so this one gets pinned on the to try list, thanks! :)

    October 7, 2013
    • Thanks, Betsy! I think you’ll really like this one…being that it’s celery, it’s got one foot up. Pick a good blue cheese (depending on how blue you like it) and you’re home free. So nice to be back, and so glad to have YOU back too! (Best of luck with the rest of the renovation/repairs!! Fingers crossed for you!)

      October 10, 2013
  14. Welcome back! And with a splendid recipe! Simple to prepare and elegant with seasonal flavor, a very satisfying soup.

    October 8, 2013
    • Your salad of celery root and apple will be on our tables soon! Looks beautiful! Such good pairings, these!

      October 10, 2013
  15. deb #

    yum – must try now that we are in soup weather :-)

    October 8, 2013
    • We’re there Deb! It’s mitten time. : )

      October 10, 2013
  16. I love everything about this soup! And with so many recipes calling for ONE STALK of celery, the perfect way to justify buying a large head at the grocery store whenever I want! Don’t get me started on blue cheese. I yum it!!

    October 9, 2013
  17. A joy to read , a pleasure to view the images and now the real test begins when I have to get into the kitchen and create something that resembles your bowl of food. I might have a go at ome home-made bread as well. Thanks Antoinette for the step by step menu…..and I hope you have an enjoyable end to the week

    October 9, 2013
    • So nice to see you here James! I’m headed over to your place shortly to see what you’ve got “cookin'”! I’ve missed seeing your work! Thank you so much for your (always) kind comments!

      October 10, 2013
  18. Beautiful soup – and am sitting reading Tender right now, great book :)

    October 9, 2013
    • It IS a great book! Have you seen “Ripe”? (On fruits? Just as lovely!)

      October 10, 2013
  19. Sounds great! I love making new soup recipes… I’d like to try this one.

    October 13, 2013
  20. Miss Spree! You’re back in the kitchen, oh joy!
    And yes you are right, celery or apples with blue stilton at Christmas, or any time you fancy.
    Now I have celery growing on my plot, first time I’ve really managed to grow it successfully so yaaay, the celery root (celeriac) didn’t make it past the young seedling stage, but not to worry as my local veggie shop has it. I like the idea of adding air to make it light and frothy, so clever as I can imagine it could be quite a rich soup.

    October 14, 2013
    • The soup (surprisingly) doesn’t taste terribly rich – though it could if you gave yourself an extra dose of that creamy cheese – but there is still something quite exquisite about that extra air delivered into this soup that just takes it over the top! xX

      October 20, 2013
  21. Wow, what a fantastic sounding soup! I can’t believe I have never made soup before! Well, tis the season, I guess I need to get on it ;)

    October 19, 2013
    • Oh, you’ve never made soup before?! Oh, you should you should! : ) now do!

      October 20, 2013
  22. settleandchase #

    This sounds like heaven, and just perfect for Autumn – love the green hues you’ve captured here too!

    October 20, 2013
  23. I’m a lover of celery root. It’s big in Germany and France and I guess the UK too. They all seem to prefer it over the stalked version.
    Perfectly simple and I’m sure very delicious and an ideal starter for a holiday meal.
    cheer x wendy

    November 5, 2013

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