December 1, 2010

Fennel and Celeriac Soup

I'm finally back in San Francisco and yesterday I was so happy I could cry. When the pilot announced at 12 in the afternoon the temperature was 45 degrees in the city, I first grimaced, but soon realized all of the advantages of the crisp winter weather. Cute coats, scarves and best of all, hearty winter soups.

Celeriac(or celery root) is quite possibly the ugliest vegetable in the world. But inside its bulbous and rough exterior is a beautifully white, starchy center. Combine with alien looking fennel bulbs and you've got a delicious, creamy soup that's perfect for cold winter nights.

Fennel and Celeriac Soup by Julie Mulvey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium sized fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (save the leafy tops for garnish if you want)
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large celery root, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (buy one the size of a large potato)
2 cups of warm water
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup milk plus more if needed to thin the soup
1/2 cup sour ceam
salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnish:
sour cream
fennel fronds or chopped chives

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot and add the chopped shallots, fennel, garlic, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Let the vegetables sweat over medium heat and become translucent (you don't want to brown them). About 10 minutes.

Add the potato and celery root and toss to combine.

Pour in the water and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaf and cover the pot. Leave on low heat to simmer for about 30-40 minutes until all the vegetables are very soft.

Take the bay leaf out then put half the soup into a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth then do the same with the rest.

Pour the soup back into the pot then add the milk and sour cream. Stir to combine. If the soup is too thick, keep adding more milk or water until you reach your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped chives.

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