An Inspired Decision.
Today is another post that’s been inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi, this time in collaboration with the head chef of his restaurant NOPI, Ramael Scully. The inspiration for this roast celeriac soup recipe came off the back of being gifted the NOPI cookbook, which is an utterly fabulous compendium of gastronomic delights garnered from the hallowed kitchens of NOPI, that mirage of a restaurant nestled just North Of PIccadilly.
In the book, they take a single, whole celeriac and treat it to a particularly extended stint in a hot oven, then slice it into wedges and serve. It’s the kind of mind blowingly simple food preparation which I utterly adore and seek to involve in my day to day life more often. It also served as the inspiration for my fledgling series of videos ‘Will It Roast’, whereby I take large, whole vegetables and cook them in the oven, as they come.
Celeriac is another vegetable which I will admit to having no knowledge of prior to 2013. I can only assume it’s a brand new type of vegetable, a fresh concept in agriculture, only released onto the market recently. Of course the real reason can’t be that I’ve been utterly ignorant of it’s delights all this time. No, of course not. Celeriac is actually a delightfully versatile root vegetable which has a really delicate flavour all of it’s own. As I type this I’m roasting another whole one to make yet another pan full of roast celeriac soup and the house is filled with a lovely sweet aroma, it’s quite unique and almost smells like I’m baking a cake, rather than a vegetable.
The other fantastic feature of roasting whole vegetables which comes through in this recipe, is that the skin often takes on a deep, rich flavour, something quite special which is only achieved with long oven cooking. In this soup I take full advantage of that by making sure the whole vegetable with skin intact goes into the soup, so that you don’t lose any of that lovely, whole flavour. The end result is another soup which I’m making yet again to serve up for my lunch, showing that the true test of my recipes is how often I make them for myself after posting them and this one looks like it will be a winner on that front.
Celeriac Soup with Apple and Rosemary
By Gavin Wren
Uses a baking tray, a saucepan and a hand blender
1 whole celeriac (Mine was 850g, you can use larger or smaller though)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 eating apple, cored and chopped (any will do)
4 sprigs thyme
1l vegetable stock
Add some little extras...If you want to make this go a bit further, then simmer 100g dried pearl barley for 1 hour 15 minutes and add to the soup once cooked and blended.
Top and tail the celeriac, so that you get rid of the hard root and the tangled shoots on top, leaving a clean vegetable with the skin still on it.
Rub the 2 teaspoons olive oil over the skin of the celeriac, then place in a baking tray with the rosemary and put in the oven. Remove the rosemary after 30 minutes. Check the celeriac after 2 hours. Make sure a sharp knife will pass through to the centre of the vegetable easily, if not, put back in the oven for a little while, maybe 15 minutes at a time, then check again. When cooked, remove the celeriac and chop into rough, inch square chunks. Keep the rosemary to one side.
Meanwhile, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic over a medium low heat until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the apple and thyme. Fry for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 750ml of the vegetable stock and chopped celeriac, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. The stock should cover the celeriac, if it doesn’t add more of the stock. It depends on the size of celeriac you start with.
Turn off the heat, fish out the thyme stalks, then blend well with a stick blender. If it is too thick, you can always add a bit more stock, even at this stage. Serve in bowls sprinkled with dried rosemary leaves from the sprigs earlier. For some extra texture, you can make my rye croutons with garlic and mustard to scatter on top.