Peeling the celeriac while getting rid of its dense roots on the base reviewed the floral aroma of the everyday celery. It’s a familiar smell and very refreshing. The aroma stopped me on my track. I paused and started admiring the beauty of what’s often viewed as the ugly tangled knob of the celery root. Grabbed my camera and took this picture. I wished I haven’t chopped off the stalks and threw them out in the compost bin without a closer examination. They might not be as tender as the celery stalks that come prepackaged. Surely, they are good enough to make stock. Once I finished cleaning the root, it did not take long for the celery root soup to come together.
Pile on more aromatics: leeks, fresh thyme and bay leaves, in the pot. Add some water, cook for 30-40 minutes and power up the immersion blender, voila! On top of all that, there are the winning components of the horseradish cream and the ham chips. Together they add flavor and texture to the celery root soup.
I thought I could lighten the horseradish cream, using greek yogurt instead of crème frâiche. It wasn’t quite right. Yogurt didn’t deliver the creaminess intended. However, when I whipped up some heavy cream until stiff peaks, and added grated horseradish and lemon juice to the mix, the result was remarkable. I could eat it by the spoonfuls – not exactly the original intent of keeping the soup light and lean. Sometimes, intentions and rules are meant to be broken!
The ham chip is a revelation. A simple step of baking thin slices of ham or prosciutto in the oven for 10 minutes or so is transforming. (I used Serrano ham.) They turn into real thin chips. Salty and crunchy, they are something you’d crave in a creamy soup.
In the cookbook My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz delivers another good recipe with complex flavor and texture. Now I see celery root in a different light. I can pick one up at the market and turn it into comfort food and soup for lunch or a light meal. Along with these two wonderful hacks: horseradish cream and ham chips, it’s all good in the kitchen front.
(If not for anything else, comfort food is an effective distraction from thinking about the carnage along my favorite bike path in lower Manhattan.)
I’m linking this post to Cook-the-Book-Fridays; our friends there are making and commenting on the celery root soup this week.