I know what you might be thinking… Celery has a root and you can cook with it, and it’s good? Who knew, right? I didn’t. I don’t even like celery, I can’t stand it. And I don’t really care for bacon either but somehow, someway this becomes a soup I thoroughly enjoy. This is why I will eat anything once. I sincerely have FOMO when it comes to food. I can’t bare the thought that I might miss something spectacular.
Since returning from France in July of 2017 I’ve made this soup at least 5 times in 6 months. It comes together so quickly and surprisingly enough I’ve been able to easily find celery root at a few stores. It’s the perfect soup for any season, served as a plated appetizer or a side.
I’ll warn you thou, celery root is not the prettiest produce on the shelf, but don’t let that distract you. Once you get past the rough exterior you’ll find a meaty center that transforms into a smooth, luxurious soup. See below for notes on cleaning and peeling the celery root.
3 tablespoons salted butter
1-3 celery roots (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into small cubes
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Extra-virgin olive oil
Piment d’Espelette or mild chili powder
6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
Prepare the bacon. I like to lay it on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with aluminium foil and pop it in the oven. 400° F for about 10-20 min until crispy enough to hold its shape.
While the bacon is baking… In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the celery root, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5-8 minutes. Pour in the milk and stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the celery root is tender about 20 minutes.
Purée the soup, preferably using an immersion blender. Stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot, drizzling each portion with a little olive oil and sprinkling with a pinch of Piment d’Espelette. Top each bowl with a slice of bacon.
Cleaning the celery root isn’t the most glamorous job you’ll have in the kitchen, but it’s worth it. I start with a sharp knife and cut off the green stems low enough to where you can see the white part. Then cut off the bottom so the root will stand up and not wobble around. Then I take the knife and carefully cut down and around the root removing the dirty exterior. Once you’ve removed all the exterior give the root a good rinse to remove any leftover dirt particles. Proceed to dice into small pieces.
I learned this recipe in France while attending a cooking workshop with Mimi Thorisson. You can find her recipe in her cookbook, French Country Cooking