ROOTS ARE NOT the prettiest. There’s the evidence, right there. Lumpy, bumpy, gritty with earth, they need finesse to reveal their true nature which is, inevitably, sweet, rich, complex. They’re perfect for this time of year, and for the holiday feasts to come.
Every Thanksgiving for at least five years or so, I’ve served this soup as a first course. It is simple to make, sophisticated and surprising in flavor. I look forward to this holiday for many reasons, but serving this soup is near the top of the list. Celeriac, or celery root, its primary ingredient, is a favorite root vegetable for me. I love its subtle flavor and the way the combination of ingredients here highlight both the familiar–the aroma of celery–and the unexpected nuttiness that follows.
Celery Root and Chestnut Puree (adapted from Florence Fabricant’s adaptation of a Jean-Georges Vongerichten recipe, originally published in the New York Times )
8 small servings
2 celery roots, about 2 pounds total, peeled and cut in chunks
1 can chestnut puree (unsweetened—the cans contain 15.5 oz—I use the Clement Faugier brand)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Freshly ground white pepper
Place celery root in a saucepan with 3 2/3 cups water and the heavy cream. Add 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, bring to a simmer and cook until celery root is very tender, about 35 minutes.
While celery root cooks, combine maple syrup, vinegar, allspice and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and remove from heat.
When celery root is tender, purée contents of saucepan. Stir in the chestnut puree, reheat and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve. If the soup is too thick, you can thin it with more cream, milk or water to taste.
To serve, pour 1½ tablespoons of warm maple syrup mixture in each of 8 teacups. Reheat soup and ladle over syrup. Serve at once.
FALL FEST IS A cross-blog recipe (and tip) swap–and you’re invited to participate. Simply post your link or recipe or idea in the comments below my post, and also on the blogs of the other participants listed here. Want more information? Get the details (and the schedule for upcoming weeks). My collaborators’ goodies: