Come clean. Celeriac is downright intimidating. Just what is that knobby-looking thing and how does one cook with it? Fear not, celeriac is not the province of chef menus only. Armed with a few facts and a killer recipe, you’ll want to run, not walk, to the Westport Winter Farmers’ Market this weekend to pick up the root and impress your friends and family.
Let’s start with what it is. Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceuem), is a species of celery in the family of plants that includes parsley, carrots, anise, and parsnip. Like many of its cousins, celeriac is a root vegetable that is often harvested during fall when the vegetable is sweetest. Indeed some species can remain underground throughout winter with mulch and protection; this is the reason it is often plentiful at winter farmers’ markets. While the root is most-often harvested when it is about 4 – 5 inches round, smaller bulbs can pack a more sugary punch. And the vegetable can be stored for 4 to 6 months at 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit once purchased.
Celeriac is delicious sliced and eaten raw but – as Chef Silvia Baldini demonstrates below – it makes a phenomenal soup when paired with apples, pancetta, and cabbage. Visit the Westport Farmers Market this Saturday from 10 to 2 at Gilbertie’s Herbs and Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane, in Westport, for many of the ingredients. And don’t forget to grab a loaf of crusty bread to serve with it, too.
Celeriac and Apple Soup with Pancetta & Cabbage
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 apples, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium celeriac, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
- 4 cups hot water or stock
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup cubed pancetta
- 1/2 cup shredded cabbage, Savoy or whatever is in season
Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onions, garlic and carrot. Cook gently until softened but not colored, about 10 minutes.
Add the apples, celeriac, and potato, then the stock. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.
Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes; take off heat and let cool slightly.
Put the soup in a food processor or use a hand-held immersion blender and pulse until silky-smooth.
Return the soup to a rinsed pan over medium heat; thin if necessary with water or stock. Reheat until simmering.
Add the pancetta and cabbage and simmer until the cabbage is bright green, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 carrot
- 2 apples
- 1 medium celeriac
- 1 medium potato
- 4 cups hot water or stock
- 1 cabbage, Savoy or whatever is in season
Contributed by: CHOPPED Champion Silvia Baldini Chef and Founder of Strawberry and Sagewww.silviabaldini.com