Celery Root & Apple Soup

This was the first year I attempted to grow celeriac. Also known as "celery root" or "turnip-rooted celery," this root vegetable won't win any beauty awards, but it sure as heck will have a place in my garden and my kitchen for years to come. For this first attempt, I got plants back in May from the Maplewood Garden Club sale (I actually schedule a vacation day for this event), and planted them in my garden. I did't plant them in wine boxes because I wasn't sure what kind of depth they would need. In retrospect, wine boxes would have been just fine.

Tip: When starting celeriac from seed, start indoors about 10 weeks prior to the last expected frost date.

Celeriac has a long growing season which is great news for me. In fact, this year I tried more root vegetables than I had in prior years. What I love about growing root vegetables is that I just plant them and barely have to think about them all summer. Celeriac is used to growing in marshy areas, so it needs lots of water and good nutrients in the soil that will help to maintain moisture, but that's about it. When my summer garden is a thing of the past in October and November, I've got my root vegetables to look forward to.

This was my largest one.

This was my largest one.

One of the hairiest veggies...lots of roots.

One of the hairiest veggies...lots of roots.

Celeriac can be used in recipes in place of potatoes or even paired with potatoes. As a soup, it carries a rich and creamy texture that is perfect for cool autumn days. I only had 6 plants growing this year, which yielded about 1 1/4 pounds to work with, which was just the right amount for this soup.

Tip: When you peel/cut celeriac, do it right before you use it or it will become discolored. If you're peeling/cutting them in advance, put them in a bath of cold water with a little acidity from lemon juice or vinegar.

This recipe is one inspired by Epicurious, however, I turned it into a vegetarian dish by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock and didn't add any pancetta. I altered some of the amounts of ingredients as well. I wish I could impart to you in words how amazing my kitchen smelled while making this soup -- "hearty sweetness" is the closest I can come.

The chive grapeseed oil garnish was a fantastic addition to this soup. If you make this soup, my advice: don't skip that part.

Celery Root & Apple Soup

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled celery root (from about 1 1/4 lbs. celery root)
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled cored Granny Smith apples (from about 2 large apples)
2 cups chopped yellow or white onion
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add celery root, apples and onion to the pot. Cook until apples and celery root  are translucent, stirring often for about 15 minutes. You may have a little browning on the vegetables, but don't let it get too brown.
  3. Add 4 cups of broth. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 25 minutes or until celery root and apples are soft. Stir occasionally. (You can work on step 6 while this is cooking.)
  4. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to blend the celery root and apples into a creamy mixture. (If you don't have an immersion blender, ladle the soup into a blender, about 1/4 cup at a time to blend to a creamy consistency and return it to the soup pot.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Puree chives, grapeseed oil and a pinch of salt in a blender or food processor with a small bowl attachment (or use the bowl that came with your immersion blender if you have one).  This can be made about 2 hours ahead and left at room temperature.
  7. Serve warm in individual serving bowls and drizzle the chive oil on top.
nutritional label for celery root and apple soup

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine