Two Ugly Roots Make Beautiful Soup
When the weather turns cool, I eat soup almost every day. Now, after cooking many pots of chunky Eight Vegetable Soup, hearty Chicken Soup with Buckwheat and green Broccoli Rabe with Pasta, I needed to make something, well, different.
Different ingredients seemed like the place to start. Celery root and parsnips came to mind. Both are root vegetables with big flavor and a texture that is comforting in soups. Supermarkets carry both, although many Americans ignore them.
Celery root tastes like a cross between celery (to which it is related) and parsley. It is brown, more or less round, the size of a softball or large grapefruit and it should feel heavy for its size. Its surface is pitted on the top part, while the lower third of a celery root is a maze of rootlets and grit-filled crevices. It looks something like Mad-Eye Moody, the potion-making professor in the Harry Potter books, would use, but it is easy to peel, cut into chunks and cook. The recipe below explains what to do when you get a celery root home.
Making this recipe, you will have celery root leftover. I recommend shredding it, and then mixing the raw celery root with mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. The French call this crunchy, piquant salad celeri remoulade, and I predict you will love it.
Parsnips look like white carrots that are chubby on top and taper to a skinny bottom part. Cooking turns them deliciously sweet. A good parsnip is creamy white and it feels firm and rigid, like a fresh carrot. The best ones are the size of a medium carrot, so their fibrous center core is tender enough to eat. With bigger parsnips, you will have to cut it away.
Celery root and parsnips both go well with other root vegetables, so I decided to simmer them with carrots, onion, a touch of butter for richness and warming spices. Puréed, the soup they make is luxuriously velvety, cheeringly sunny and cozily comforting.
Celery Root Parsnip Soup
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 176 calories, 7 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 26 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 159 mg sodium.
- 1 small celery root
- 1 Gala apple (peeled)
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter plus 1 tsp.
- 1 tsp. canola oil
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup peeled and chopped parsnips
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place celery root on its side and cut off top and bottom. Stand celery root upright and cut away peel in vertical strips from top to bottom following its shape to expose white flesh. Rinse celery root and chop into roughly 3/4-inch pieces, measuring out 2 cups. Store remaining celery root in bowl of water with squirt of lemon juice to use later in salad or stir-fries. It keeps for up to 2 days.
Core apple and cut into 4 quarters. Chop three of the quarters and set aside. Cut fourth quarter lengthwise first into 3 slices, then stack and thinly cut slices crosswise to form small triangles. Set aside for garnish.
In large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil over medium heat. Add celery root, carrots, onion and parsnips, mixing until they look shiny. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover pot tightly and cook for 8 minutes, until vegetables are very moist. Mix in cumin, cardamom and ginger. Add chopped apple pieces and stir to combine. Pour in broth, and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer soup until vegetables are very soft, 20 minutes. Let cooked soup stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Carefully transfer hot soup to blender. Cover, wrap dishtowel around top of blender and purée soup until smooth and velvety, starting low and finishing at high speed. You may need to do this in two batches. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
In small skillet over medium heat, melt remaining 1 teaspoon butter. Add reserved apple and cook until shiny and slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
To serve, divide soup among 4 soup bowls. Spoon one-fourth of sautéed apple into center of each bowl. Serve soup immediately.
Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.