Doeden: Luscious soup a second chance for celeryAny other time, I wouldn’t give a second glance to a recipe for celery soup. I use celery when I make a pot of stock, and sometimes I add it to salads and slaws. It goes into mirepoix to use as a flavorful base for sauces, soups and stews. But unless its ribs are filled with peanut butter and dotted with soft raisins, I ignore celery.
Any other time, I wouldn’t give a second glance to a recipe for celery soup. I use celery when I make a pot of stock, and sometimes I add it to salads and slaws. It goes into mirepoix to use as a flavorful base for sauces, soups and stews. But unless its ribs are filled with peanut butter and dotted with soft raisins, I ignore celery.
I read an article the other day about the results of an online audience poll that San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market conducted. In an effort to help their customers cut down on food waste, they asked them what food they wasted most. Can you guess what the top four most-wasted foods were? Fresh herbs, citrus, sour cream and celery. The store’s staff developed recipes and tips to help customers use those four foods while they are still fresh and flavorful.
Other than the sour cream, which I remember getting moldy in my refrigerator only a couple of times in my life (I’m Hungarian, remember), I could definitely relate to the other three responses.
I went to my refrigerator and found a stalk of celery with yellow leaves and brown ends. I don’t remember why I bought it – probably needed just a couple of ribs. A handful of skinny carrots were limp. A very ripe pear was covered with dark brown speckles – way beyond its prime. A bunch of parsley still looked pretty healthy with its stems soaking in a glass of water.
It seemed I should be able to make soup with all of these ingredients. I used a recipe for celery soup I found in a 1992 School Parents Association cookbook as my inspiration. Then I just got creative. That’s what makes soup-making so much fun.
I chopped a leek and the skinny carrots that were probably equivalent to one fat carrot, sliced up the aging stalk of celery that was minus only a couple of ribs, and diced an onion. I sautéed them all until they softened. After simmering in broth along with some fresh parsley, a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme from my garden for about an hour, I pureed the soup in my blender.
I learned something new about the green celery ribs with leaves that tickle my cheek when I drink a Bloody Mary. They have a salty character. Before I added any salt or pepper to the pureed soup, I tasted it. The celery had released its slightly anise-like flavor to the soup, along with an underlying note of salt. With this in mind, be sure to taste the soup before you grab the salt shaker.
The thick, velvety soup is complex with herbal notes and undertones of sweet earthiness. My favorite guy, with his discerning taste buds that can detect exact seasonings in foods he eats, was certain I had slipped some curry powder into the soup. Ha, he was fooled.
Sprinkled with toasted almonds and served in small cups, Save-the-Celery Soup is a nice beginning to a meal from the grill. For something different, spoon some of the hot soup over a grilled chicken breast and sprinkle with toasted almonds. The soup is good over cooked brown basmati rice and sprinkled with almonds.
To practice responsible waste management in the kitchen, make soup.