Roasted Celeriac and Potato Veloute
Way back in the 90’s there was a food trend that swept through American restaurants. It seemed all the cool restaurants were combining celeriac with potatoes to create a zesty puree! I also jumped in and joined the craze during my culinary training years in New England. I even brought the concept with me to Switzerland and the first restaurant I worked at in Zürich. And I promptly received the dreaded Swiss reaction loosely translated to, ‘that’s special,’ which is polite code to say something sucks.
But I’m not giving up and I think it’s time to bring this flavor profile back to life – only this time in the form of a soup!
Late winter and early spring is an interesting and challenging time for fresh food. Winter roots have sat in storage for several months and seem…well…rather tired. Early season spring offerings are limited and usually under-developed or come from a land far away. The weather is also challenging at times for those living further distances from the equator. The chilly winter air often battles the occasional warm spring vibe for supremacy. Of course, spring will ultimately win the war, but there are those days in between when a warm soup is necessary…a soup exactly like this simple roasted celeriac-potato veloute!
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 kg. (2 pounds) fresh celeriac
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 celery stalk, chopped fine
- sea salt to season
- 3 starchy potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 teaspoon potato starch
- 2 liters (2 quarts) vegetable broth or water
- 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
- chopped chives or chervil to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 210°C (about 425°F)
- Peel the celeriac, then chop into 2-cm (about 1-inch) cubes. Place all the cubes in a large bowl and add the lemon juice along with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a bit of salt, then place everything on a baking sheet lined with some baking paper. Roast for 20-24 minutes, until the cubes are soft and beginning to turn color on their edges. Reserve.
- While the celeriac is roasting, go ahead and get a large pot ready by heating it over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the onions with a pinch of sea salt, stir well and allow the onions to gently soften in their own juices. This will take about 10 minutes and you may need to add a touch of water periodically to prevent the onions from sticking. It is best to prevent the onions from caramelizing.
- Once the onions are soft, go ahead and add the bay leaves, garlic, celery stalk and a touch more seasoning. Cook for about 10 minutes to allow the celery to soften with the onions and seasoning.
- Add the cubed potatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Stir well to combine, then add the starch and mix just to combine. Add the reserved roasted celeriac (keep a bit to garnish the soup) and the vegetable broth or water. Mix well.
- Cover the pot, turn up the temperature to bring the soup to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and remove the cover. Simmer the soup for 20-25 minutes. It is done when you can easily smash a piece of potato against the surface.
- Remove the soup from the heat and puree. You can use a hand blender for pureeing or a normal blender. If using a normal blender, just be sure to work in batches. I also like to strain the soup well once it is pureed – this lends a certain classy feel to the soup.
- Season with the sherry wine vinegar and any salt you think is necessary. Serve garnished with some roasted celeriac, chopped chives and chopped chervil. Enjoy warm, room temperature or cold. The soup will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days in case you make too much.
Jack’s Fresh Tip
Here are some tips on the ingredients you need: The celeriac can come in two bits if you can’t find a large one. Just make sure the total weight is a bit more than 1 kg. (2 pounds) if you use more than one root. The celery stalk is just one large piece of celery – not the entire bunch. You can use something other than potato starch – tapioca or plain flour would be the best alternatives. If you don’t have a vegetable broth on hand, then just use water. I like to avoid the instant vegetable cubes because they are too strong in salt and other chemicals – this will be noticeable as the soup cooks down. Try to use a sherry wine vinegar if possible – there is just something magical about the flavor when it is mixed with celery. You can use red wine vinegar if you don’t have any sherry wine vinegar.
This is a Sample Recipe
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