Ugly Veggie, Beautiful Soup
Looks can be deceiving. Discover the velvety comfort of celery root soup, made from the Charlie Brown of veggies.
Photo by Leah Lizarondo
My kids have this book called The Ugly Vegetables and it’s a tale about a mother who, every season, plants vegetables in her yard instead of pretty flowers. Her little daughter wishes they planted beautiful blooms just like everyone else, instead of ugly vegetables — that is, until her mom made the most delicious soup with the harvest.
Unfortunately, Celeriac (or celery root) is one vegetable with aesthetics that only a mother could love. Here's the photographic proof (Eeek!)
It is the Charlie Brown of root vegetables. Just take a look at that photo. It’s the ultimate “beauty on the inside” vegetable. I love that. And celery root is different from a potato or carrot in terms of flavor. It is less heavy and less sweet and has a fresh, herby edge.
Cashew cream (so easy to make) lends creaminess to this soup – that velvety comfort, like a warm blanket on a fall day.*
But of course, we can’t leave well enough alone. Before serving, top the soup with a dollop of cilantro lime chimichurri. This isn’t required. You could also follow the original recipe and chop some Granny Smith apples, which will provide a nice contrapuntal crunch. But cilantro is cleansing and the perfect vehicle to add subtle complexity to this beautiful soup.
Celery Root Soup
Tal Ronnen’s recipe from The Conscious Cook
Yield: Serves 6
- Sea salt
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium celery roots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 quarts faux chicken or vegetable broth (try Better than Bouillon brand)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup thick Cashew Cream (recipe below)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: 1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, very finely diced
1. Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.
2. Add the celery root, celery, and onion and sauté for 6 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft but not brown. Add the stock and bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the Cashew Cream and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
3. Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, cover the lid with a towel (the hot liquid tends to erupt), and blend on high. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls.
4. Place a spoonful of the diced apple in the center of each serving, drizzle the Chive Oil around the apple, and serve.
* I use cashew cream as a great protein- and fiber-packed replacement for cream all the time. It provides all the richness but with a healthy fat! I’ve used it here for a creamy dessert.
- 2 cups whole raw cashews (not pieces, which are often dry), rinsed very well under cold water
1. Put the cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by 1 inch.
3. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. (If you’re not using a professional high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, which creates an ultra-smooth cream, strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve.)
Cilantro Lime Chimichurri
Brazen Kitchen recipe
Yield: Makes 1 cup
- 1 1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Puree all ingredients in processor. Transfer to bowl. Use this on everything – even as a topping for a fresh baked baguette!