Don’t Hide Your Roots!

by paige on November 3, 2010

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:

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Soma November 3, 2010 at 8:31 am

This is such a beautiful recipe. The spices and the maple.. mmm…

I could join in the fest this time! Here is mine – Poppy Seeds and Chickpea Crusted Potatoes

Ranjani November 3, 2010 at 9:51 am

I tried celery root for the first time this fall, and definitely liked the flavor – nice to find some new recipes using it!
I made a root veggie salad this week:

Nicole November 3, 2010 at 11:52 am

I’ve never brought a celery root into my kitchen but definitely plan on exploring some new-to-me root veggies this fall/winter. Last night I cooked rutabaga for the first time and I think celeriac will be next. This soup sounds fantastic!

Kathleen November 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Feast on the Cheap November 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I’ve never cooked with celery root…it’s so darn ugly I’m afraid I’d never get it right. Am gonna have to give it a shot though, everyone raves about it!

My rooty-tooty contributions are: Roasted Beets with Sweet Pears & Feta and Winter Beef Stew with Mushrooms & Turnips

Stephanie @ Dollop of Cream November 4, 2010 at 12:52 am

I love celery root, too. And there is something satisfying about making delicious food out of such an ugly vegetable! Here’s my recipe for celery root soup from last winter:

For Fall Fest this week, I made my favourite fall/winter root veggie soup. It’s called West African peanut soup, but I found the recipe in cold, cold Winnipeg!

Here it is:

Alto2 November 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Here you are! I’ve neglected my own blog and blogroll for months. When I went to update and vet the blogroll, I saw the last post on the “Parkside” blog was from June 2010. A little more digging, and here you are. Hola and how have you been?

BTW, I am a big fan of the celery root. My fave dish of the week was a butternut squash risotto. Yummmm.

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