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I’ve always dreamed of writing a soup cookbook. A book of recipes where there’s no need to carefully measure or weigh things, variations are not only allowable…but encouraged, and cooking times are not cast-in-stone instructions to be followed like the ten commandments. It’s no wonder the French love les soupes so much!

The word “supper” comes from soup, and in parts of France, the verb souper means having dinner, or supper. Being French, there are a multitude of ways to conjugate the verb, such as Nous avons soupé, or We had soup…or We had dinner, and Ils eurent soupé (the passé antérieur), which is even more of a mouthful. I’m not going to try to teach you French verbs, because I have a ways to go before I master them myself (although it’s a relief to know that even the French have difficulty with them too.

While French verbs may be a challenge, soup is easy. And the French don’t complicate those. Most homemade soups are purées, or véloutés, enriched with cream, so they’re velvety. (See? French isn’t that hard to understand…)

In addition, soup recipes can be successfully multiplied or divided, and made in advance and frozen. They’re also not that finicky; if someone adds an extra bit of leeks, or an additional clove of garlic, to the pot, the world won’t open and swallow us all up and life as we know it won’t end. What’s not to like about that? It’s certainly something worth writing about.

However, the soup cookbook likely won’t happen. Still, that’s not going to stop me from making soup, which, aside from clutching our hot water bottles, Parisians use to keep warm during the winter by eating lots and lots of hot soup.

Making soup in the winter is easy in France as root vegetables and squash are readily available at the markets and grocery stores. I rarely order soup in restaurants, since I can’t see paying ten bucks for a bowl of something that’s ridiculously easy to make at home. No thank you.

For a number of years, some root vegetables were harder to find, like rutabagas, salsify, and parsnips, while others, like turnips, beets, potatoes, squash, and celery root are seemingly everywhere. When I arrived in France and tried to track them down, I was told that they weren’t widely used was because of their association with the poverty of the war. (Although the war ended in 1945, nearly eighty years ago…)

But now many “forgotten vegetables” (légumes oubliés) have become branché or trendy, which is a trend I’m happy to hop on.

Celery Root Soup is very easy to prepare—and cheap. I think an entire pot of soup cost me less than five euros in ingredients and took me less than ten minutes to put together. While leeks are very French – faire le poireau means to wait forever for someone (because leeks grow slowly) – they are quickly scooped up at the markets, but onions will do well in this soup in their place.

The best way to clean leeks is to cut off the very dark, tough, green parts, which the sellers will do for you at the markets, making it easier for you to put them in your shopping basket. (Although there are ways to cook with them.) Use a knife to cut them lengthwise, starting just below the Billy goat beard-like end, keeping it intact. Then turn the leeks a quarter turn and make another lengthwise cut in each. Fill a deep bowl with cold water, spread open up the layers with your fingers, and swish them around briskly until there’s no grit at the bottom of the bowl or between the leek layers. Depending on the leeks, you may need to double-wash them to ensure there’s no grit. (There are some pictures here.)

I’ve recently come around to using water for soup, rather than stock. For one thing, boxed stock isn’t available in France (although Maggi just introduced it), but water is easily available and works just fine.

This soup is also quite healthy and I don’t add cream or anything like that, but instead finish each bowl with a swirl of olive oil or a dab of crème fraîche or yogurt (sour cream works, too). I also use white pepper; the good brands have a lively, zippy flavor, although black pepper is fine. You’re welcome to use various toppings, depending on your mood, which can include everything from toasted croutons, crisp bacon, and fresh herbs, to chili crisp, toasted pumpkin seeds, or a sprinkle of a spice mixture like za’atar, baharat, or dukkah, to take it in another delicious direction.

Celery Root Soup

A friend who teaches cooking in Tuscany, Judy Francini, taught me to slice garlic very thinly, rather than mince it, which can cause it to burn. And I’ve been doing that ever since. It's also easier! I sometimes add a few springs of fresh thyme and/or a bay leaf or two for additional flavor, but you can leave them out if not available or try some sage.
If you'd like to use some stock, you could replace half the water with chicken or vegetable stock, although I find it just fine made with water. I did suggest a few favorite toppings in the post, but feel free to add your own!
Course Soup
Cuisine French
Servings 6 Servings
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • sea salt
  • 1 large, or several smaller, celery roots , (about 3 pounds/1.5kg) peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups (1.5l) water
  • 1 bay leaf, (optional)
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, (optional)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-ground white pepper, (or black pepper)
  • scant 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • In a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the leeks and cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic cloves and season with salt, and continue to cook until the leeks and garlic are soft and translucent. If the leeks begins to stick and brown too much on the bottom, add a pat of butter or pour of olive oil.
  • Add the cubed celery root and water. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce to a strong simmer. Add the bay leaf and thyme, if using, and cook with a lid ajar on top until the celery root pieces are soft and easily pierced with a paring knife, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and add white pepper and chili powder, pluck out the herbs, if you used them, then purée the mixture using an immersion blender, or let the soup cool to room temperature and whiz in a standard blender until smooth. (Do not puree hot soup in a blender as it can create a vortex and blow off the lid, which is dangerous.) Taste the soup, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. If the soup is too thick, it can be thinned with additional water.
  • To serve, rewarm the soup in a saucepan and ladle into bowls.

[Note: This post was originally published in 2008, and has been updated in 2022.]



    • Kaytee

    on a separate topic of things from home not being found in paris, I came across vanilla extract Sans sugar added! however the huge drawback was the price: it was 9.20€ for 30mls at le bon marche epicerie, of course. looks like it’s still worth it to bring it from home after all.

    • Erin

    I love soup and have to hold myself back from posting to many recipes for it on my site. It could easily be an all soup blog. I am loving your recipe, celery root is a passion of mine. I think it will be premiering in my kitchen soon.

    • Susan

    I love soups this time of year. How on earth do you peel that knarly (not in a surfer dude way of knarly) celery root? Do you just cut off and dispose of the exterior skin?

    • C(h)ristine

    I am going to say a big YES to David Lebovitz writing a soup cookbook! I’d buy it in a minute.

    • Tags

    Hot water bottle, followed by soup. Is there a theme here?

    Before you write a soup cookbook, check all the armoires in the antique shops first. Sometimes people leave great soup recipes in their drawers.

    • Milena

    We are having a kind of rainy, kind of windy, kind of sullen day here in Texas. I think it is the perfect time for some of this delicious looking celery soup. Thanks!

    • Barbra

    Soup is also a good antidote to all of the rich foods and sweets I’ve been eating for the past week (ok, month). Strangely, it’s 65° in NYC today; not exactly a cold winter’s day! You’re not kidding about homemade stock — I’ve gotten into the habit of making it every time I roast a chicken.

    What did you say to the waiter after the dirt comment? Or perhaps your were speechless…

    • Sunny

    Hot water bottles and soup? You bet there’s a theme, and I’m seriously considering leek and potato soup for our supper (since I don’t have any celery root…).

    It’s friggin cold here in the Paris region. By 1pm, when I walked home from the market, the puddles were still frozen and there was still frost on the cars that hadn’t been driven yet today.

    • marmitelover

    But celeriac looks so ugly don’t you think? Or is that just me?

    • JustMe

    you know, there’s a lot of things that are ugly that are pretty good to eat. (snerk)

    • Sandra

    First off, great visit today!!
    Soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods–no matter what time of year. My maternal grandmother made an awesome chicken soup and I recall many years ago calling her to get her recipe. One of her key ingredients for flavor was parsnips–peeled and sliced down. She used carrots, bunch celery along with the tops and onions. In recent years I’ve added garlic and other interesting things, but I have always been a bit too shy on the salt and pepper. This past batch I was too heavy handed on the pepper, and even threw in some crushed red pepper. More water helped along with the cut peeled potato to absorb some. She also used cut-up chicken and left it in, until it was practically falling off the bones, which I still do today. Instead of stock, I might throw in a can of Manischewitz, to give it the extra something I probably missed somewhere. Also noodles of any kind help as well. But I printed this recipe to add to my binder filled to almost overflowing of your recipes ( and those from this blog). The celery root is a good idea. Speak to you soon.

    • elizabeth

    Sounds SO wonderful! I will make this week, and will get white pepper – I am one also who always wondered, “why?” ;-)

    I have found the leeks here to be so much cheaper than in the U.S., and clean (grown in sand, I am led to understand.)

    My love of soup, and making it – has grown wildly while living in Europe.

    • Iva from Cooking for Friends

    Great soup! I’ve been buying only seasonal produce and cooking seasonal meals this winter and I am getting a bit tired of the squash. I will definitely try the celery root! It gets cold even in Arizona and a bowl of soup is very welcome this time of the year!

    • David

    Barbara: I was thinking, “I wonder what other things he’s said to customers?” I remember overhearing a waiter at a restaurant tell a guest, “Frisée is a kind of cream.”

    The waiter I mentioned in the post did get his comeuppance when the head waiter, who also owned the restaurant, grabbed a few fingers worth of hair that was sticking out of his nose and gave it a good yank one night in the waiters station. Ouch! He was doubled over for a moment after that, although the rest of us thought it was pretty funny.

    I guess that wasn’t very nice, now, was it? (But well-deserved.)

    elizabeth: I was a recent convert to white pepper after taking a sniff of a really good one. This is the Penja white pepper, which I bought at my local spice shop. I bought just a small amount, which wasn’t expensive, and has lasted me at least two years.

    Susan: Most of the celery root that one sees is pretty smoothed-out, and just needs a good shucking with a knife. Mine, as shown, was particularly goofy and I simply cut deeply into the area below those rooty-looking things until I got to the ‘meat’ below.

    C(h)ristine: Except most of my soup recipes are pretty basic and easy, so I don’t think there’s all that much demand out there for a book of my recipes. And besides, I need an excuse to keep all the chocolate around here that I do!

      • Charlene V

      My husband and I once told the waitress that we didn’t eat meat and she assured us that the foie gras was vegetarian! When the website where we made the reservation asked for a review, I gave a generous rating but left a private message for the restaurant about it. I received a very nice email from the manager saying he would train the staff better. He also sent a $50 gift card—now that’s customer service!

      PS We are getting very cold weather next week here in the Northwest and this soup will be on the menu! I also love the tip to slice the garlic!

    • krysalia

    The picture of your celery root is amazing. You’re damn good to make a pretty picture from something so ugly, no matter the angle :D

    Your soup seems also enjoyable, i’d love to try, especially because I like as much leeks as I like celery.
    What I usually do is to cook some celery pieces in boiling water and eat them cold and tender, with a good garlic mayonnaise ♥. If I have some left from this batch, I heat them in one tablespoon of olive oil, with onions and leak finely chopped, and sometimes the end of the raw celery root in slices. When they get nicely golden, I cover them with good chicken stock and let the vegetables simmer for 15 to 25 minutes. of course at the end I blend everything with le mixsoupe, adding une vache qui rit ou deux…

    The soup gets some grilled flavors and nice homogeneity with the cheese.
    it’s not as simple as yours, but it is pretty comforting for winter :)

    • Shannalee

    Judging from the very cold, very wintery December we’ve had in Chicago, I see months of homemade soups on the horizon. This looks lovely.

    • radish

    This looks amazing – and so comforting – we’re having a lovely warm spell here in NYC, but I know before long we’ll be hit with the cold weather again – I’ll make it then – all I’ve got to do is find some celery root. If I don’t find smoked salt, what do you think of porcini flavored salt with flecks of little porcini mushrooms?

    • marmitelover

    Ooh er, censorship?
    And there’s me assuming you were a punk rocker chef comme moi?
    Tant pis. Je ferais attention à partir de maintenant

    • Claire

    Ooh I love celeriac (as it is called in the UK). Our local greengrocers has a nice selection of posters from, I assume, the British celeriac promotion society or some such thing. They have grinning celeriacs with arms and legs and say ‘CELERIAC – THE UGLY VEGETABLE!’ and ‘CELERIAC! – FLAVOUR, NOT BEAUTY!’.

    • sam

    celeriac is one of my favourite vegetables. I might beg to differ on how best to make soup from it but like you say, variations are encouraged. The Frenchman and I had soup last night – Curried Parsnip with sesame croutons from Matthew Drennan’s soup book which is pretty good. Must be – to make two parsnip-non-lovers enjoy the parsnip soup (before you ask they were in out Mariquita mystery box). I also have the Covent Garden soup book – but you ought to know – there is ALWAYS room on my shelf for another soup book, always. Especially if there is a handwritten dedication from you to me inside the cover…x

    • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    I make soup two or three times a week, but have never made celery root soup. I don’t often see the roots in the market here, but I’ll keep an eye out now and give this recipe a try. For me, the freewheeling nature of soupmaking really appeals; I’m a good improviser, and I love to recycle leftovers into one-of-a-kind soups.

    • Margie

    I have veered far away from this strange looking vegetable fearing that it might attack me or, worse yet, mutate into a further ‘unknown’ as it sits awaiting rescue in the vegetable bin of the fridge. Perhaps I now have the courage to commit to it, well, at least I can peruse the produce aisle and ‘act’ like I ‘know’ what to do with it.

    • vera

    Not ordering soup in a restaurant?

    What about a Bouyabez with real Aioli and toasts?

    What about a fab. Tomato soup with basil and orange juice I have stamblled upon in Italian chain restaurants in Oxford and Chester?
    (By the way do you happen to have a good recipe of this soup?).

    What about when it’s freezing outside and you are hungry and the first thing you think about is soup (ah and you are a tourist)?

    Well I think I made my point.


    • joyciel

    The celery root reminds me vaguely of this creepy little thing from Pan’s Labyrinth…

    And SO MUCH LOVE for soups

    • Tut-tut


    Is there some reason you care whether someone orders soup or not? Why would anyone wax poetic over something on the menu at a chain restaurant? Is there a ministry of soup that no one knows about? Would it apply to an American in Paris under some bizarre EU ruling, anyway? (WTF, indeed)

    And I think you’ll find a recipe much easier to find if you spell it “Bouillabaisse”

    Your point was…?

      • Hanne

      I liked her.spelling!

    • johanna

    i think that’s a very handsome celeriac you’ve got there. this recipe sounds great. and luckily we have a celeriac and some leeks sitting in the fridge. unfortunately, my boyfriend is very odd about soup – he only likes clear soups for some reason. perhaps this will convert him? maybe so, especially if i followed your bacon-scattering advice!

    • marmitelover

    Joycie yes. Or the mandrake root in Harry Potter…
    Tut Tut: wonderfully bitchy! I like you.

    • Michelle B

    David, it’s your attitude towards cooking and eating food that deserves to be presented in as many cookbooks as possible–the recipes are just filler!

    For our main meal, on alternating days there is always a meal in a soup bowl for us. Though I have always love soups from earliest memories, canned, homemade, restaurant, during the ten years of living in France, my soup-making has become a much bigger part of our menus. Here, it does not seem odd if I go the extra mile and bake the pain de campagne whose thick slices are then grilled in their garlicky olive oil state landing up eventually (among other things) in soupe a l’onion gratinee a la parisienne.

    Btw, if your blender container has a snap lock lid, then it can be safely filled with hot liquid just below the top measure point with no danger of being scalded via exploding fluid bombs.

    • David

    Michelle B: I’ve recently become a full-on convert to the handheld electric mixer. Not only does it do a great job, it’s much easier to clean than the four parts of my blender. I haven’t seen a home blender with a snap-on lid, but we had a giant one in the restaurant and stuff would still fly out the steam hole. So I always want folks to be careful.

    And your bread & garlic pain de campagne is a terrific idea. Smeared with tapenade, that was another addition I would add to this, too.

    marmitelover: I avoid censoring or deleting things on the blog, but on some occasions will edit a comment if I feel it touchs on a subject that readers might be particularly sensitive to. Since there’s an international readership, I try to be respectful as I can of others: what someone in America or Iceland, for example, might think is funny, another person living elsewhere might not find it so.

    Thankfully, a majority of the time, the comments are funny or insightful, and I’ve learned a lot from my readers. Contrasting opinions are welcome, and encouraged, but there’s enough hollering at each other in the world, and in the rest of the media, that I like to keep the banter friendly around here.

    I agree with the comment policy at Simply Recipes, and more info can be found in my FAQs.

    sam: There’s also a new soup cookbook by your local-boy George Morrone, Simply Elegant Soup, but I haven’t seen it so can’t comment. But should I ever do a soup cookbook, I know exactly who I’ll dedicate it to.

    radish: Yes! That mushroom salt would be great. Although living in NYC, you should someday pick up a bit of smoked salt. It’s really great, and I brought back about five different kinds from my last trip to Texas, including the one shown here.

    (Funny, I had to go to Texas to buy salt that’s made in a neighboring country. Apologies for leaving a big carbon footprint on that one…)

    • Diana

    Hi David,

    Just wanted to thank you for the great blog. It is the only food blog I visit regulary, bordering on religiously!

    Happy New Year and I’ll be looking forward to the next 12 months of your entries.

    Bogota, Colombia

    • stephanie

    I crave soup every single day the temperature dips below freezing, but the creamy veloute soups in Paris are just so heavy and I end up making soup several times a week. Please write a soup cookbook! I need more ideas….who knew celery root could make a tasty soup? I will try it this weekend for sure. In your cookbook, you can include a chocolate dessert soup and that will allow you to hoard chocolate in the name of research.

    I too am a stock convert and cannot believe I ever used the stuff in a can….and as for the cube…it should be outlawed! Every weekend I buy a rotisserie chicken at the marche and use the bones and a week of veggie scraps (onion skins, carrot peels, tomatoes, parsley stems, etc) to make a rich stock. So in my kitchen there is no waste at all and the result is liquid gold perfect for soups, sauces and my favorite….risotto! There is absolutely no substitution for real stock.

    • Sunny

    Stephanie, how much stock does that make? Just one carcass and some veggie peelings? How simple is that, too…it can be simmering whilst you’re doing something else (writing comments on David’s blog, even)

    Hmmm (scurries off to the fridge)

    • Sunny


    • Victor in Montreal

    David, thanks for giving me the motivation to give celeriac a chance, what with its daunting exterior and sublime interior (hmmm, that sounds a lot like some people I know).

    For anyone who can find panais (parsnips), here is the soup I made last night: peel parsnips, boil/simmer until very soft in homemade chicken stock, puree until perfectly smooth, and adjust seasoning (if needed) with salt and pepper. That’s it, except for optional garnishes of heavy cream and freshly-grated nutmeg. Soooo simple yet soooo good.

    • stephanie

    Sunny :)

    For one carcass…use the equivalent of 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks. You will be surprised how fast these little pieces add up to in a week. Tomato, garlic, shallots, leeks, herbs are all a bonus. Just use what you have. I keep all my scraps in a bag in my fridge as the week goes by. If you don’t have time one week, toss in the freezer for the following week.

    Chop up the carcass a bit and break the bones (bc the marrow gives so much flavor) put everything in a stockpot and cover with cold water. Keep just under a simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Strain, cool and remove fat. Voila. Perfect rich stock without buying a single ingredient. You will have 6-8 cups depending on how much water you used in the beginning. I use it up faster than I can make it, but it freezes for months.

    Good luck!

    • Erik

    Does celery root lend itself to roasting at all? For example… what about tossing the cubes in oil and roasting in the oven, or even just in the soup pan to get some caramelization going before proceeding with the soup?

    • Claire

    Erik: you can most certainly roast celeriac. I treat it pretty much exactly like a potato, in fact, and it works brilliantly. Roast celeriac, celeriac dauphinoise, celeriac mash… and it’s brilliant with a touch of mustard (of all varieties), added wherever and however you see fit.

    • The Blacksmith

    What is the distance from a bowl of soup to a slice of cake? And in what manner this distance brings together extremes of ourselves into the utterly divine -yet humane- feeling of comfort, intrinsecal of a good and simple meal prepared from scratch and with care…? I enjoy a lot reading you, Mr Lebovitz, you do not only concoct wonderful recipes but also smiles in my exhausted maternal face. I wonder how do they taste! To me, they are sweet treats in my ever-tiring days. Ultimately, is the gossamer of the Beauty in Art, be it cooking or poetry, which, at the end, are just the same.

    A warm greeting from my heart, P

    • david bugeja

    Great site and belated happy birthday David. makes me feel at home sitting reading your blog as I have also just turned 50 aaargh! and after spending 30 something years in the kitchen I know how you feel . amazing eh! how time flies . I stumbled upon your site looking for a chocolate recipe and and still haven’t followed it up as I’m always sidetracked with the comments and amusing blog .I totally agree with a vague recipe book where quantities are left to the reader . tastes vary and so does availability of produce .leave a little guess work and you get a creative cook . regarding soup, I make and freeze veg and chicken stocks . then use them as a base for whatever takes my fancy at the market . At the moment we have great artichoke (the root variety ). a bit fiddly to clean but make a great soup. pop in some new potatoes, a touch of garlic ,a quick whizz with the hand blender and hey presto , heaven !
    thanks for the smiles you and all give me and here,s wishing all a healthy, happy new year…
    Now where’s that chocolate recipe he’s on about … .

    • Laura

    What a beautiful celery root…I love your pictures of it. Sort of the root vegetable version of an ugly-beautiful woman. I have had a rutabega knocking around in my fridge for the last week and a half…any delicious soup recipes you know of that I could use it in?

    • Leslie

    I, too, would totally buy a DL Soup Book. (Can you print out your comments and present them to your publisher, telling them the market is crying out for this? Or, I suppose, email a link, don’t know why I got all retro there for a moment.)

    Soup is like the savory partner to ice cream, something you can just stick in a bowl and feel satisfied. I named my blog Three Bowls for a bunch of reasons, but one was I realized most of my meals are in bowls rather than some plated tidiness. I think soup and ice cream make up the base of my own personal food pyramid.

    For the vegetarians out there, if you want to make this soup with a very flavorful vegetable stock, I cannot stop running around shouting about how great Mark Bittman’s roasted vegetable stock is (it’s somewhere on the NYT site if you search for it). If you are not eating meat or poultry, it is a good way to add that deep base flavor that is hard to otherwise achieve with vegetarian cooking. It’s a bit of extra effort but so very worth it.

    • Kristina

    Au contraire, David! Do do do write a soup cookbook! I practically live off homemade soups. I would love to read your recipes and variations, like this one. We (Americans, at least) need to go back to simplicity with our food. I think most of us don’t have much of a clue how simple things like soup can be to make. I think you’d have fun with it. And think of the humble root vegetables that need your support!

    • Beverly

    Thank you for this delicious soup. It was the perfect foil for our damp and chilly Bay Area weather. I added some sauteed sausage and followed your suggestion of crispy bacon, finished with a sprinkling of smoked salt. The last two additions elevated the soup to divine!

    I’m so glad I found your site.

    • David

    Beverly: Isn’t smoked salt great? It’s such a wonderful condiment and really does make a difference, even if you just add a gentle sprinkle. People think I’m a little nuts for having 9 or 10 salts in my kitchen, but I enjoy them all and use them for various purposes. Glad you liked the recipe!

    Incidentially here’s a smoked salt recipe for those of you with stove-top smokers. You could likely rig one up yourself, too.

    • Robin

    Now I know what I’m going to do with the celeriac sitting in my frig!
    I love smoked Sea Salt, too! I have one that is an alderwood smoked flavor that
    is fantastic and I’ve been adding it to everything… well, not quite everything :-) I have quite a few different ones along with different kinds of sea salts, all different colors, too. I love sprinkling the red hawaiian salt on my green asparagus soup!…

    And maybe I’ll make gougeres to go with the soup… I’ve had gougeres on the brain, too. I usually make them for my annual New Year’s Eve Party but decided to make cheese straws from puff pasty this time instead just for the change. Those were good, but I really missed the gougeres! I’ve been making gougeres since my Mom discovered them for her parties while I was growing up (I’m about your age… and btw, once you turn 50, you won’t think about it again and it becomes less important, at least that’s what happened to me!)

    Happy & Healthy New Year! I really enjoy reading & cooking from your blog (and your cookbooks, especially your ice cream book)…

    • Sunny

    David, thanks for the prod on soups. The celeri rave is definitely in season here, so I’ll give that one a go next time I’m at the marche.

    The chicken, potato, and leek soup was a real hit — my 9-year-old ate two bowls (go figure!).

    and Stephanie, thanks for the prod to not waste chicken carcasses and vegetable scraps. We had two chickens this week, and I had a big bag of scraps from all the soup this week, so I now have ten cups of lovely homemade broth in my freezer (I put it in 2-cup portions in small zip bags…they lay flat on the shelf in my tiny freezer this way)

    • MommyCook

    I just tried the soup without chile powder( because I did not have) and it came out wonderful.. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • jcb

    about the white pepper…
    I was surprised to see that it had been re-discovered having been overshadowed by black pepper. Must be my age. When I was a girl living on a farm in Australia, there was only one pepper and that was white. We did have pepper trees and the pink skinned berries tasted peppery, not that my mother used them; I just tried everything that looked edible.
    Anyhow, I have always used white pepper for more subtle dishes like boiled or scrambled eggs, risotto and, indeed, root vegetables. Perhaps it is a rule that pale coloured foods are best with paler pepper? Now middle aged and living deep in the French countryside, I have discovered ‘mélange de 5 baies’ in the supermarket: black, white, green and pink peppers, coriander and allspice. For multi-coloured foods? In any case, I now have 3 pepper grinders.

    Great site, by the way!

    • Melissa M

    YUM! I discovered this gnarly root in my CSA veggie box a few months ago. I also had some leeks in the box. I googled leek and celery root and found this recipe. It is amazing and I have made it many times since. I also included some cauliflower puree one time when I had some that was on it’s last leg and needed to be used. I’ve also tried crisping up some turkey bacon which was wonderful with the soup. A bowl of this soup and a chuck of fresh crusty bread is heaven. I make extra to freeze for busy week nights.

    • Matthew

    When I was making this tonight, some bourbon happened to find its way into the pot. It worked quite well, I think!

    • TheLadyJAK

    This sounds delicious, and I probably have it saved from when you first posted it. I’ve always wondered, why it’s better to let something sit in a bowl of water, then drain, sometimes repeatedly (like rice) than just rinse thoroughly under running water? It’s one of those absolutely mundane and unimportant things to go back and forth about with other avid cooks
    Also, thanks for the link on what to do with the leek greens, I’m definitely going to try that too

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Soaking helps loosen up any dirt or grit so it sinks to the bottom. It’s similar to rinsing lettuce or spinach leaves vs submerging them in water to get out any grit. Rinsing the leaves really doesn’t get the dirt out the way submerging in water does.

    • Nan Slaughter

    Put your dreams into action and please DO write a soup cookbook! I live in Seattle where the year-round average temp is 50 degrees, so every day is a soup day and I could use some “Lebovitz Magic” when it comes to soup making! I’ve made your celery root soup before, it’s one of our favorites! Thank you!

    • Rebecca

    I’ve always dreamed of having a soup restaurant – with big pots of soup, and served to go – to eat a small cup or a big container to take home – then in summer switch to salads! there was a little place that did this in Amsterdam years ago and I loved it! There was also a place in the Tenderloin in SF near where we first lived that had a great sign “Soups – Everyone Welcome!” Here’s to soups!

    • Cate Stika

    The sweeter tones in this soup can be enhanced by adding either a peeled apple or pear before pureeing it. And/or adding sauteed versions of the same (leave the peels on if sauteeing) as a garnish. Celeriac is a one of my soup staples!

    • Rose de Heer

    Great post. Lovely recipe. Will def give it a go. I also love celery root salads, the kind they serve everywhere in France. I as well would be delighted to see a David Leibovitz soup cookbook. A note on root vegetables: we never ever had turnips growing up, and I still have an engrained aversion to them, as my mother was given those as her main food source in the concentration camp during the war, analogous to what you describe. It’s painful to even see the word, which is not the poor turnip’s fault!

    • Heidi

    I had a French kindergarten student who told me with a disgusted look on her face, “When my mom was a little girl she ate soup every day.” I, however, thought it would be wonderful!

    • Karin Anderson

    Sounds like a wonderful soup! 20 years ago, when I moved from Germany, where celery root is a common ingredient, to Maine, the only celery available were stalks, and there was no leek, no kohlrabi, no rutabaga. Salsify is still absent from supermarket shelves, and mâche, if it can be found at all, is harvested as immature „baby“ and has no more taste than baby spinach.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      It’s funny because in France mâche is very easy to get, and inexpensive. Romain doesn’t really like it and when I told him it’s prized in the U.S., where it’s scarce, he was really surprised!

    • Katherine Kerber

    Hi David – the timing couldn’t have been better for this particular soup recipe, at least for me! I’m taking an online French cooking class and yesterday was all about root vegetables — selecting, cleaning and prepping. I saw this as an opportunity to practice what I learned. And, voila, I peeled the root with much less effort and no lost skin! What a confidence builder! But, the real thing that stopped me in my tracks was that drizzle of olive oil on top. Epic! Not sure if it was because the oil was on that particular soup or not, but I found the oil flavor to be so much more clear to my palate than I remembered for that oil. It tasted amazing! Great experience overall! Thank you for all you do!

    • Christine

    Ok. Two things. Please, please write that soup book. Not only will I buy it, I’ll help put it together. My favorite thing in the world is making soup in Paris on a rainy day. Hoping for that this year in October. Second, I never, and I mean never, think to use celery root for soup. I use it all the time with other things but never soup. I’m on the road now but as soon as I get home, I’m making it. Thank you.

    • Inbal Anna Rose

    It is probably just me but I am not quite clear if you are using celery root or celeriac (the pictures look like the latter) in the soup, which are not quite the same thing in taste or texture. Thanks.

    • Bricktop

    There’s a typo that has endured. The war ended in 1945. Feel free to delete this after correction.

    • Bricktop

    I am pretty sure I could live on soup. Leeks are delicious but not that easy to find and tend to be ridiculously expensive. Onions are the obvious sub. So many of my soup recipes start with frying onions, and I agree that water works well as a base. Cleaner, if you get my drift.

    We have bought half a celeriac in Paris. I don’t know if that was just the way the vendor wanted to show the quality of the product by displaying it cut. You can certainly get a portion of a pumpkin instead of the whole thing.

    • Melissa

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. Made it yesterday, pretty much as written, except for the chili powder. So good! And perfect for the current winter chill. Celery root and leeks were definitely easier to get and cheaper in Germany, when I was there, than in SoCal. The going rate for celery root in San Diego right now is $2.99 per pound. Seems like a lot considering how cheap and ubiquitous celery stalks are here. Has me wondering what happens to all the celery roots after the stalks are harvested.

    • Dakota Miller

    Hi, David! I have to admit, I was kind of skeptical to try out this recipe since it’s my first time cooking celery roots. Luckily, I was able to find it at a local grocery nearby. The soup came out amazing and it was perfect for a cold evening. Thanks for this!

    • Olivia L

    I made this! Thought it would be a bland soup, but wanted to try something new with celeriac. Turns out it is DELICIOUS! I added cream to it before serving … and also used bone broth. But otherwise followed the recipe. Thank you!

    • Jeannette

    Made it and loved it. Quick too. Peeling the roots took longer thancooking the soup. My resident men declared it a winner and suggested it be made again soon. Had to identify the celery root to my local store clerk. Guess they don’t sell a lot of it.

    • Bea

    Hi David,
    Thank you so much for the great soup recipe.
    I have a request for your future posts.
    Can you give us some informations about the types of flour? You are the only person I would trust .
    Some Europeans calls for 000 types, but here I can only find Italian “Anna” 00.
    I love baking ,but sometimes I get very confused with the European ingredients and I don’t want to waste my time and all the good stuff I’m buying( my husband feels the taste of butter in the pastries), therefore I only use Plugra because of it’s neutral, good flavor.
    Thank you!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Bea,

      I did a comprehensive post Ingredients for American Baking in Paris here. I’m not familiar with type 000 flours (I use mostly Type 65 in France) but you can find more information in that post. Hope that helps!

    • Bonnie H

    Any chance you can include the “suggested toppings” with the print version of your recipes? It would benefit those of us who still prefer to print recipes. Thanks for considering…

    • Karen Schaffer

    Speaking of lost vegetables, do you ever see cerfeuil tubéreux (chervil root) in the markets? I had it once from a market in France (maybe Orléans?), but it was clearly unknown to most of the French shoppers as well. The grower was explaining and promoting it. He told us to peel and boil it until tender, then cube it and sauté in butter. It was divine! Tasted like chestnuts, with a parsnip-like texture. I haven’t had any luck growing it myself, so I keep hoping someone ‘discovers’ it.


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