It’s certainly very . . . colorful October 5, 2011Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, random stuff, soupe du semaine.
I will admit it: I’m a sucker for fresh produce.
I don’t mean fresh in the not-frozen, not-canned sense – I mean it in the “picked yesterday from that farm down the way a piece” sense.
So of course, when I saw bunches (stalks) of fresh, local celery at the public market last time, I had to have some!
See, celery is one of those things that I’ve never seen grown in person – I don’t know why, but it just always came from the store. The thought of actually growing celery, well, it’s just cool.
Well, as lovely as celery can be, I guess. But still.
It was a deep green, topped with plenty of crisp, fresh leaves, and just as fragrant as you could possibly hope for! This was not celery to stick in the produce drawer, there to languish away until I needed a mire poix, or even to dip into peanut butter. No, I wanted to use this gorgeous bit of greenery as the highlight of a meal.
So we did the obvious – we made soup.
It was actually quite simple – first we washed the celery (and boy, did it need it!) and cut it into couple of inch hunks.
Then the celery, along with a chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, got sauteed until the vegetables just started to soften, a couple of minutes.
Then, of course, I had to throw in some of those lovely, lovely leaves. After all, celery leaves are chock full of flavor. Plus, they’re probably full of vitamins or antioxidants or some such. (You do use them, right? In stock, if nothing else?)
Then the greens cooked down, and we add half a cup of dry white wine (or what was left in our box-o-wine) and let that cook down for a few minutes – you’ll want the wine to reduce by about half, maybe 5-8 minutes or so. It always seems to take about twice as long as the “official directions” say it will. I have no idea why.
Anyway, after the wine, I added a chopped potato, the starch of which will ultimately help thicken the soup, and a quart of stock.
Sure, you could use chicken stock, and don’t think I didn’t consider it. But then Peeps reminded me that we did, in fact, vegetable stock on hand, so that’s what I used. But chicken would work nicely too.
Maybe add a pinch of salt and some (white) pepper if you’d like, though you will be seasoning to taste later on.
Let the whole thing cook until all the vegetables are soft but not mushy, maybe 15-20 minutes, depending, I guess, on how big you cut them in the first place.
Once the celery and potatoes are done, you’re going to want to blend the soup – this is a pureed soup.
You can try the stick blender, but you’ll quickly realize that, unless you’re going for “rustic,” celery is never going to get truly smooth that way.
We blended the soup in batches until it was nicely smooth – a truly creamy soup, without the cream.
Oh, and, while the soup was cooking (and blending), we contemplated a finish for it – a garnish, if you will.
Of course we’d use some croutons to add a bit of crunch, but. . . what about a pesto of sorts?
A celery-leaf pesto?
We had plenty of leaves (I didn’t put them all in the soup, after all), so why not, right? After all, if anything would work, flavor-wise with celery, it’s got to be more celery.
So, basically, I took a handful of washed celery leaves, a clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, some white pepper, and a handful of almonds, and I stuck them in the food processor. Once chopped, I drizzled in some extra virgin olive oil, just until the whole thing came together.
I figure what’s left over will be a pretty interesting to a future vegetable soup, or even a stew of some sort.
So, how was it, you ask? You are asking, right?
Well. . . I’ll tell you.
I liked it. I liked it a lot. I liked the creaminess, and I liked the celery-ness of it, and I even liked the croutons floating on top. Though I honestly could have done without the faux pesto – it looked nice, but flavor-wise, I thought it was a bit much. Still, it’ll be great to perk up a stew or something later on. It made a wonderful light supper, especially if there’s a nice big cookie for dessert.
Now Peeps, he liked the soup – and the pesto – just fine, though he really didn’t find it satisfying. I guess he’d have been happier with two cookies.
And the Boy. The poor Boy.
See, he works evenings, until 11, which means he misses dinnertime and reheats his after we go to bed.
And while he knew we were having “soup” for dinner, he saw the container of vibrant green-ness, and he thought it was one of his favorites – split pea soup.
He was, to put it mildly, disappointed.
So the bottom line – it’s a lovely soup, but not a whole meal. And make sure everyone knows it’s celery, and you’ll be fine.