Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celeriac and Apple Soup

whatta veg!

introducing a whopper of a veg, the super knobbly scary looking, the mighty mighty big, with an even bigger creamy flavour: Celeriac! it looked so nondescript in the veg patch all year, but after diggin one up the truth was revealed - a frankenstien monster of roots! what a beaut

celeriac is also called: turnip-rooted celery, 'knob' celery (ha ha!) or the wrongly named 'celery root'. thanks to wikipedia, i am now the celeriac quiz master and can say celeriac its wrongly called celery 'root' because, when we eat celeriac we are eating the hypocotyl of the plant, not its roots. what's the hypocotyl you ask? well, i can tell you a hypocotyl is the stem from a germinating seed, if you look closely the roots are actually growing from the hypocotyl, which are cut off before cooking. if you are interested in hypocotyls and what they have to offer click, here.  .

i'm pretty sure this is the first time i've cooked celeriac (i don't know why) let alone grow the bugger. bar one time possibly roasting it? and what a fool i've been to not have tried this veg in the kitchen more often. growing it proved to be slightly tricky, as the slugs burrowed into half of them and literally ate them from the inside out. eeek! i'll be giving this root veg more space in the patch next year and possibly less to its stalky cousin, gasp! i love celery stalks (see this post) but i grew way to much. 9 plants in total.

Cooking Celeriac:
celeriac has mulitudes of uses: shaved in slaw type salads, thinly sliced in creamy gratins, or pureed into silky soups. its great for winter, and since it takes about 28 weeks to mature - thats the only time your getting it! and after pulling out my first bulbous root yesterday, its totally worth the wait. even the tops of the celeriac can be used, in a cut and come again style of picking. they taste like celery stalks, (click here for more on celery) with a bit more bite. its really two veg in one, with a crowning glory of a root veg at the bottom. i had to take a picutre of the massive-ness on my cutting board for the scrapbook!

they look pretty unassuming growing there.....
Growing Celeriac:
this is my first year growing celeriac, as its been a wet one, its perfect for winter root veg like this big daddy. my first celeriac clocked in at 550grams, peeled was more like 475grams. big enough for a delicious soup for 8 people! the other 3 left outside need to grow abit longer.

i started my seeds indoors, in trays around march 25th, keeping them watered. after the plants got big enough, around mid may they were 5 inches tall, i planted them out 30cm apart with 40cm between rows. and left em. thats it!

i probably should have paid closer attention cause by late summer half of em died back and revealed their gooey hollow centers of slug (or something more sinster's?) carnage. probably more organic slug pellets would have helped, make a note.

these roots need nutrients, well manured moist soil is best, after 24 -28 weeks (6-7 months) of growing you should be harvesting them! (around october to november.) i have a feeling if you protect a bed of celeriac with a layer of straw they can stay in the ground till needed. maybe even without straw? i should try it to make sure. let me know if you've done this with your celeriacs.
while the roots are growing its fine to take a stalk or two from the top, they are a bit woodier than celery grown for its stalks, but if cooked its delicious as a base ingredient.

Celeriac and Apple Soup
makes 8 servings

this is another recipe adapted from Around my French Table, by Dorrie Greenspan, buy the book!

in dorries recipe she uses 'stalk' celery and celeriac root. i opted to use more of my happy root veg and the stalks in came with, this may not be easy to find in your greengrocers so just use the stalk type celery. the sweetness of apples goes great with the creamy texture and celery-y (theres no other way to describe the taste of celery!) flavour in the soup. currypowder could be added if you wanted to take the soup eastwards....
use a sharp knife to chop off top and roots, then peel
2 tablespoons butter
50grams celeriac stalks, chopped
handful of celeriac leaves, chopped
2 onions chopped
2 sweet apples, peeled, cored and diced
salt and pepper
454grams celeriac, peeled chopped to 2cm dice
1 bay leaf
a couple thyme sprigs
1.5 liters chicken or vegetable broth

creme fraiche, optional
  • melt butter in large soup pot, and add  celeriac stalks, leaves, onions and apples. stir on medium heat till softened.
  • add cubed celeriac and mix into rest of veg
  • pour in stock, and add the herbs
  • bring to a boil and simmer for around half an hour till celeriac is tender and cooked through
  • puree the soup till smooth with an immersion blender or in a food proccessor (in batches).
  • serve hot, with a dollop of creme fraiche if desired.

the flesh is creamy and sweet, it can be eaten raw.

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