While much of the country digs out from several feet of snow, here in Sacramento the weather is finally beginning to act like winter. Thank you rain! Time to curl up under a cozy blanket and enjoy a warm bowl of soup. This week’s pick? A classic creamy celery soup.
Like cabbage, celery is an oft neglected vegetable, prized for its place in a mirepoix, but rarely the star of the show. Which is silly when you think about it, given how good celery is in soups. (Can you imagine chicken soup without it?) Celery soup, with a supporting cast of some onion, leeks, and a little cream, is utterly delicious, and a great way to warm up on a chilly day.
Taste the raw celery you plan to use in this soup. The celery should be fresh and good on its own, not old or bitter. If you have a particularly tough or bitter bunch of celery, please don't use it in this soup, find another use for it.
- 3 Tbsp butter, divided into 2 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
- 5 cups of chopped celery, and 1 1/2 cups of diced celery (from one large bunch of celery or two small bunches)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, to taste
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cream
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Fresh chopped chives or parsley for garnish
1 Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a thick-bottomed 4 to 5 quart pot on medium heat. Add the diced onion, the leaks, and 5 cups of the chopped celery. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more.
2 Add the chicken stock and bay leaves to the pot. Taste for salt and add salt. (If you are using unsalted butter and unsalted stock, you will need to add more salt than you expect, if not, maybe just a little salt will be needed.) Increase heat to bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3 While the soup is simmering, prepare the extra celery that will be added later to the soup. In a separate small sauté pan, melt 1 Tbsp of butter on medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups diced celery to the butter. Ladle 1/2 cup of the simmering stock from the soup pot into the sauté pan. Simmer on low for 5 or 6 minutes to soften the celery. Set aside.
4 Remove the soup pot from heat, let cool slightly. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender, filling the blender no more than a third full at a time (keep your hand on the lid so the hot liquid doesn't explode). Return the puréed soup to the pot. Stir in the cream and the braised diced celery.
Taste for salt and add more if needed. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and chopped chives or parsley to serve.