Thursday, February 18, 2010

Carrot and Celeriac Soup

Ok, so this snow and ice and cold is getting a little old now. Good thing I made a ton of vegetable stock 3 weeks ago, because nothing warms the body like a hot and rich bowl of soup! But what kind of soup? Oh, the debate is endless. Campbell's would have you believe that condensed chicken noodle is the way to turn your snowman back into your kid. But canned, condensed soups generally have way too much sodium and taste like mush. No, what you want and need is something rich, slightly spicy, and preferably nutrient rich to keep you healthy during the bad weather. I think I've got just the soup to fit that bill...

I based this recipe off this one from the NYT Recipes for Health series. I liked this recipe because it uses rice instead of cream to thicken, thus sparing some calories. It also has room for additions/changes, which I gladly took advantage of. In my case I cut out some of the carrots and onion and replaced them with celeriac to give a slightly sharper, bitter flavor to contrast the sweetness of the carrot. I also added some cayenne pepper, garlic, and other herbs while cooking to bring out an assertive bite that you taste first, followed by the sweetness of the carrot. Overall, I'm pretty happy with my version, especially when pared with some nice crusty bread.

Carrot and Celeriac Soup
1 lb. carrots, sliced thin
1 large celeriac, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup arborio rice
2 qt vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
5-7 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh sage
  1. In a soup pot, heat the butter and oil until the butter just begins to brown. Add the onion and celeriac and cook for a few minutes until the celeriac is tender (about 5-10 minutes depending on how larger your chop was).
  2. Add the carrots, garlic, salt, thyme and sage and cook, covered, for 10 minutes till the carrots are mostly cooked, stirring every so often. Fish out the thyme sprigs and add the rice and stock. Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes covered.
  3. When the soup is done cooking, puree with a stick blender, in batches in a blender/food processor, or a food mill. The final product should be slightly thick and flow smoothly. Taste and add black pepper, cayenne, and more salt as you like. Serve with a sprinkling of thyme and some warm crusty bread.

Freshly made soup, ready for eating!

My camera doesn't do the color justice unfortunately.

Well, there you go, a simple, nutrient rich soup to warm your heart and soul this winter. I would suggest not following the above pictures and adding fresh sage as a garnish unless you chop the leaves much finer. Since this is thickened with rice, you can add a small dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream and not blow your diet if you want. You can also substitute other root vegetable such as parsnip for either the carrot or the celeriac.

Ok, so I dropped the ball in getting this out on time, I'll try to do better next time. Till then,

Mike :)

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