Soups & Stews
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Celery Root and Pear Soup

In Germany, and the rest of Europe, we have experienced one of the chilliest Augusts in decades. So aside from clutching a hot cup of tea (and turning on the heat again) many of us have been keeping warm by eating lots and lots of hot soup.

I don’t usually make much soup in late summer, since I would much rather be enjoying a refreshing salad, but really these past days with a high of 11° (!!) — come one, what’s that all about? — have turned me to craving something warm. Soup is soo very ridiculously easy to make yourself, so why venture out into the chill to order a bowl, an expensive bowl at that, in a restaurant? So how about giving a celery root and pear soup a whirl?

Celery root, also called celeriac, is pretty much the ugly duckling of the vegetable family. It has a distinctly refreshing and zesty flavor resembling a cross between celery and parsley. The green stalks that sprout from the root aren’t actually the same as the celery stalks we buy. They are actually stronger in flavor and not quite as crisp as regular celery — but, don’t toss them – they are wonderful simmered in soup or a homemade stock.

Celeriac

I actually never knew about celery root (or perhaps I just overlooked it) when I was living in Canada. With it’s knobby, bulbous root and dirty, creviced skin, it’s no wonder. Though, once its unattractive and gnarly exterior is cut away, a pale ivory flesh is revealed. Here in Germany, celery root has attained a pretty amazing level of popularity and is considered a versatile root vegetable that is a welcome and delicious addition to soup, stews, salads, gratins or even roasted on it’s own.

I love creamy soup, but am not a fan of cream in my soup, so although this celery root and pear soup has a creamy texture, it is also remarkably healthy. I topped this soup with parmesan cheese, though in hindsight, I think it would be lovely with some crumbling chunks of blue cheese. Whatever you choose to top it with, whether it be crispy bacon bits, garlicy croutons, or crayfish, it’s bound to taste delicious. Served as part of a German “Brotzeit”, meaning “bread time” – perfect. Enjoy!

CELERY ROOT AND PEAR SOUP
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium celery root, peeled and cut into 3 cm (1 inch) cubes
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 3-4 small yellow onions)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 cups (or more) chicken broth
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped
2 sprigs thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
chopped chives, garnish
freshly grated parmesan, garnish

METHOD:
1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat oil and add celery root, celery, onion, and garlic. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften (do not brown), about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add broth, pears and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until celery root and pears are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Strain soup through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the soup stock and vegetables separately. Remove and discard the thyme sprig. Using a blender or food processor, purée soup in batches, adding reserved stock as necessary to blend smoothly.

4. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If soup is too thick, add more stock. If too thin, continue to simmer until thickened to desired consistency.

5. To serve, top with chopped chives and grated parmesan.

Can be made 1 day ahead, stored in the refrigerator.

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