Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Hail the Tyranny of the Box

Can I tell you about the soup I made last night? It was the most awesome soup ever. I thought I'd made some pretty good soups in the past, but this one has raised the bar. It is the soup of all soups.

To be honest I had my doubts when I first set out to make it. Namely because of the main ingredient: Celery root. I subscribe to a local CSA and two of these honkin' big tubers came in my share this week. I've committed myself to the tyranny of the box - ie. you get what you get and you don't get upset. If life hands you celery root, you make celery root bisque or whatever. When we get our shares each week we also get a newsletter that includes recipes to kind of give us an idea of what to do with some of the vegies. I used that recipe as a foundation and then freely adapted it to make use of other vegies that came with the box.

And it is amazing. So flavorful and creamy. Best soup ever. Believe me. I ate two bowls of it. I couldn't stop!

Mostly Celery Root Bisque
1/2 stick of butter (you could use olive oil too)
1 1/2 pounds of celery root peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (4 cups)
6 stalks of celery chopped into 1/2 inch - 1/4 inch slices (optional)
1 turnip chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
2 cups of leftover cauliflower (optional)
1/2 lb of shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium to medium high heat. Add shallots and a bit of salt to start them sweating and cook, stirring occasionally until they are soft. I didn't allow them to caramelize too much, but it's your call how brown you want to let them get (12 minutes). I also chopped up about six stalks of celery and let the flavor mingle with the shallots until the celery was soft. I put the cover on the pot and let the vegetables kind of steam in there for about ten minutes or so. Next, add the celery root and turnip, a bit more salt to keep the vegies sweating, put the lid back on and let it steam, stirring occasionally for about 15 - 20 minutes. You kind of have to use your judgment on how long you think it needs to go. Add 4 cups of stock, cover pot and bring it to a simmer, this is when I added the leftover cauliflower. Simmer for 15-20 minutes more, again it's your call how long you want to let it go. Turn off the burner and let it cool.

Puree in batches in a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender until creamy smooth and then return back to the pot. Season with salt if needed and add pepper. You can also whisk in a little cream or yogurt if you like, but I found it didn't really need it (I guess technically it's not a bisque without the milk, but it already tasted like it had cream in it).

If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

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