Celeriac and Potato Soup with Garlic, Ginger, and Thyme

I've been kicking myself into high gear when it comes to making meals and dishes that feature foods that are local and seasonal.  The value of doing so is obvious not only for health reasons but for sustainability purposes - let's all save some gas and money by eating foods that haven't travelled very far to reach us, and to boot let's make food that's the freshest we can get our hands on.

It was with this mentality that my soup featuring celeriac, otherwise known as celery root and belonging to the celery family, came to fruition. I have no qualms in admitting that until this week celeriac intimidated me, mainly importantly because celeriac resembles what I imagine the inside of a brain to look like.  I picked one up a few days ago at the Marché Saxe-Breteuil, which was covered in dirt and whose numerous folds and canks made me nervous, anxious, and uneasy about what was contained inside.  Below is a photo of celeriac after its porous and wrinkly skin had been sliced off.

As soon as I came home, I began to play around with the celeriac - I smelled it, touched it, tapped it, tossed it in the air, all to gain a better sense of its weight, texture, and overall composition.  This root vegetable which grows abundantly during the winter months and which bears a strong resemblance to celery holds itself beautifully in soups, gratins, mashes (with potatoes or without), and as bases for stews.  Something in its smell made me think it would go beautifully with ginger, and of course ginger and garlic always make a lovely pair.  Toss in some fresh thyme and thicken it all up with two little potatoes, and you have yourself a deliciously easy, tasty, and hearty soup which can be sopped up with some bread. 

Please enjoy not only this soup but all the pleasures that eating can bring you.

Celeriac and Potato Soup with Garlic, Ginger, and Thyme - serves 1
This soup only calls for 1/2 of a head of celeriac, making enough soup for one meal.  If you'd like to make extra and store it in the fridge for up to a week, use the whole head of celeriac and double the other ingredients.

Also, if you have soy sauce on hand, add 1 tablespoon of it at the same time as the celeriac, potatoes, and water to add an extra dimension of flavor.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, chopped, or one small onion, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
about 2 cups water
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2-head of celeriac (I'll tell you how to cut and peel it)
2 small yellow potatoes, such as yukon gold or charlotte, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
about 2 cups water

1.  Cut off the root and stem of the celeriac.  Using a chef's knife or a cleaver, cut the celeriac into 2 pieces cross-wise.  Use a sharp knife to peel off the skin and any large dark spots or holes.  Cut one of the halves into 1-inch pieces;  store the other half in the fridge for another use.
2.  Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
3.  Add the garlic, ginger, and shallot (or onion) to the saucepan and cook, stirring, until garlic and gigner become fragrant and shallot softens, 4-5 minutes.
4.  Add the potatoes, celeriac, and thyme leaves.  Sprinkle liberally with salt (about 1 tsp) and a pinch of pepper.  Pour in enough water so that everything is covered by half of an inch, about 2 cups.  Bring to a boil, and simmer until celeriac is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. 
5.  Working in batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Return to the saucepan and heat until hot, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.


Chief said...

I just made this heavenly soup. Great news was it came out so well and not so good news is I couldn't stop eating. I finished the whole thing. Again I have to thank you for making this harsh winter more tolerable with all these great and hearty soup recipies. I could never see myself enjoy cooking and follow recipes. You have changed it all for me. Thank you.

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