Friday, 3 April 2015

Celeriac and Caramelised Apple Soup

Now in years gone by the mere mention of the word Celery would put me in a cold sweat. My arch nemesis and number one of hated foods, it seemed to crop up all over the place whenever I least expected it. Many a salad was sent back because it made an unwanted appearance. Italian restaurants, in particular, seemed to make it their one objective in life to slip microchipped celery into their salads requiring many many minutes of careful extraction before I was prepared to try a mouthful. But yes, there was always one micro-morsal that I would miss, filling my mouth with its unwanted flavour.

Now time has moved on and fashion changes quickly in the food world. Celery does not seem to be used in salads anymore unless you are unlucky enough to stumble upon a restaurant still stuck in the 80s (and yes they still exist in the UK especially some Pubs !).  OK, I stumble from Pubs frequently enough but thats another story......

My tastes have gradually changed. A revelation to me was how fantastic celery is when you juice it. I actually use it in my morning juices every day! Cooked celery, ha ha, is now just another ingredient. However, as a raw item on my plate I still would rather pass.

My old hatred of the celery caused me, until recently, to give a wide berth to its related cousin Celeriac. Over the last few years this root vegetable seems to have become popular with Celebrity Chiefs. In fact Nigel Slater gave 12 pages to it in his splendid book Tender.

I took the plunge a few weeks ago and had Celeriac and Apple soup at the wonderful Topstack Cafe. It was served with a walnut pesto topping and a savory scone. It was wonderful and got me thinking perhaps I can knock one up. Well on a wet Bank Holiday weekend here we are!!

  • 50g butter
  • 1 celeriac (peeled / cubed)
  • 2 medium potatoes (peeled / cubed)
  • 1 leek (sliced)
  • 1 medium white onion (peeled / chopped)
  • 1 Garlic Clove (sliced)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock (I used Carrot and Parsnip juice)
  • 2 eating apples (peeled / quartered - I used Braeburn)

Caramelise apples in 25g butter for 5 minutes. Reserve. This process provides a great background sweetness to the soup. Alternatively, miss out this step and slice the apples thinly adding towards the end of the simmering for a more delicate taste.

Gently sweat the rest of the ingredients in 25g butter for 10 minutes. Season as required.

Add the stock and bring to boil, them simmer for 20 minutes. Add the reserved apples after 10 minutes.

Blend and let cool for freezing. Perhaps reheat a portion for serving if hungry.

The soup might seem a bit thick after blending. I added some filtered water and reblended.

I would always recommend a topping with this soup to cut across the creamy sweetness. I used crushed walnuts drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.  Other toppings you could consider are Walnut and Pesto, roasted hazelnuts and parsley or fried sage, or even an orange and lime flavoured cream!

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