Celery root is an often overlooked vegetable. To be fair, who would stop to admire this homely looking root when there are sexier vege out there to catch our eye? Take those perky bundles of Easter egg colored radishes or those glossy on-the-vine tomatoes. Now those are lovely. But don't judge a book (or a vegetable in this case) by its cover. Once you peel away its gnarly exterior you have, well, still not the most beautiful looking thing but when cooked, oh how the angels sing!
The true inner beauty of the celery root (or celeriac as it's also known) is its earthy, buttery flavor that is somewhat akin to the heart of an artichoke. Try it mashed with potatoes and you'll never serve plain potatoes again. Julienne it (matchstick piece cuts) raw along with a pear or two and toss with a fresh tarragon vinaigrette with a bit of grainy mustard and you've got yourself an easy and elegant salad. Add some celery leaves to garnish and it's even better. Celery root, by the way, is not the root of the skinny, stringy vegetable we often snack on, though they do share a similar flavor profile.
To cut a celery root, grab a sharp knife (preferably a chef's knife) and your courage. With a firm grip carefully cut away the knobby outer skin, taking care to not cut away too much of the sweet inner flesh. Don't fret over creating a perfect ball, you're going to cut this baby up anyway.
The following recipe is one of our favorite ways to enjoy celery root: a creamy, delicious soup topped with fresh diced pears and crumbled blue cheese. It's a soup where sweet and savory come together in perfect harmony. We'll be enjoying this soup well into Spring, but for now, it's a warm and comforting meal eagerly eaten while the nights are still cold.
Serves 4 to 6
Note: you can easily make this recipe vegan by using vegetable broth instead of chicken and toasted walnuts in lieu of the blue cheese.
1-1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and chopped
2 fresh California Comice pears, cored and chopped, plus more for garnish
4 tablespoons minced fresh chives
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled at room temperature
Place celery root, pears, chives and chicken broth in a large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the celery root is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carefully transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth. To serve, pour the hot soup into bowls and garnish with the crumbled blue cheese and chopped pears.
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