When I was in my 20s my friends and I had a game that we liked to play with any new person that we met. We would each list the 10 foods that we would take if we were going to be stuck on a desert island for the rest of our life. You could assume that you would have the very best quality of ingredient. It had to be foods in their raw ingredient form. Salt and pepper and water were free. I know. Try not to be scandalized by how wild and crazy we were in our youth. My list (at 26) was something like…
- Whole raw chicken
- Olive oil
- Swiss Chard
- Whole milk
- Black tea or Flour
- Sugar or Baking powder
Again, try not to be overwhelmed by how wild and crazy I was. I was trying to choose ingredients that could be combined to cook a variety of dishes (soup stock, gratin, mayonnaise, custard ect) and that would keep me fairly healthy. I would flip flop between whether it was more important to have sweetened tea or to have the ingredients to make drop biscuits.
We also had another game, where we would list the 10 foods we would eat if the world was ending tomorrow. For me that list was something like…
- Fresh porcini mushrooms
- Scotch whiskey
- Dark chocolate
- Black cherries
- Fresh figs
I recently mentioned to my mother that I love celery and felt that it was an underrated vegetable. She reminded me that, 15 years ago, when I had asked her about her ten ingredients, she had included celery on her list. I did not remember this. Nor did I remember mocking my sweet mother about her choice of celery, and telling her that I would not be visiting her on her desert island. Rotten baby adult! Bad daughter!
I now know, as my wise mother did then, that celery is a glorious vegetable! It is crunchy and refreshing when raw and it imparts a saline herbal quality to cooked foods that is invaluable. Scroll down to see all of the celery dishes that I have written about in the last few years. I eat a lot of celery and I love it! It might even be on my list now.
I have been trying out a number of celery soup recipes this winter. My favourite was the Roasted Celery Soup from Food 52. In the end though, I liked it better when I replaced the heavy cream and lemon with buttermilk. Heavy cream does not always agree with me and I love the extra tartness from the buttermilk.
ROASTED CELERY AND BUTTERMILK SOUP
adapted from Food 52
- 8 large celery stalks
- 1/2 large or 1 small fennel bulb
- 2 large whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 medium redskin potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1 1/2 inch dice
- 6 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
- 1/2- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Chop the celery and fennel into 2 inch chunks. Reserve some fennel fronds and or celery leaves for garnish Place the celery, fennel and cloves of garlic in a 9×13 inch roasting pan. Add the salt, pepper and olive oil and toss to thoroughly coat everything. Spread the vegetables out and roast in a 350F oven for 20 minutes. Give them a stir and then roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the edges of the vegetables just begin to brown.
- While the vegetables are cooking, cook the potatoes in the chicken broth for 10-12 minutes or they are until tender. Set the pan aside to cool a bit.
- When the vegetables have finished roasting add them to the potatoes and broth.
- If you are using a blender, let everything cool a bit the puree the soup in batches. I use a an immersion blender right in the pot, while the soup is still hot.
- When the soup is pureed, strain it through a mesh strainer. When the pulp is too thick to press through pour in the buttermilk through it to help press the last bit of goodness out. Discard the pulp.
- Return the strained soup to the pot and gently reheat it before serving. Taste and re-season if needed. Serve garnished with reserved fennel fronds and/or celery leaves.
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