Celery Root Soup
Eight to Ten Servings
My friend Judy, who teaches cooking in Tuscany, taught me to slice garlic very thinly, rather than mince it, which can cause it to burn. And I’ve been doing that even since. I like a mix of chicken stock and water, or you can use all water. Since moving to France, where canned chicken stock isn’t available (although “the cube” is), I’ve become a convert to homemade stock, which really makes a world of difference.As mentioned, soup is great because you can take it in so many different directions. Especially this one. I’ve mentioned a few garnishes that you might want to try at the end of the recipe, but I’ve been sprinkling my bowls of celery root soup with smoked salt, which can be found in well-stocked grocery stores and specialty shops. I love it.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
sea salt
2 garlic cloves,
one large celery root (about 3-pounds 1.5kg), peeled and cubed
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
3 cups (750ml) water
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-ground white pepper
scant 1/8 teaspoon chile powder
1. In a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil.
2. 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 pot begins to brown too much on the bottom as they cook, add another pat of butter or pour of olive oil.
3. Add the celery root and stock. (Or use all water.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a strong simmer. Cook, with the lid to the pot ajar on top, until the celery root pieces are soft and easily pierced with a paring knife, about forty five minutes.
4. Add white pepper and chile powder, the purée using a hand mixer, or let the soup cool to room temperature and whiz in a blender until smooth. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. If the soup is too thick, it can be thinned with water or stock.
To serve, rewarm the soup in a saucepan and ladle into bowls.

Variations: Celery root has a distinctive flavor, but don’t hesitate to experiment with adding other ingredients. Cubes of pear or apple could be cooked with the cubes of celery root and puréed, a dusting of nutmeg, or some tangy crème fraîche instead of the olive oil are all worthy additions.

I’m a big fan of chucks of crisp bacon floating around in there, or you can even add a swirl of another root vegetable soup, such as beet or carrot. And if you’re feeling opulent, this soup lends itself very well to shaved truffles scattered over the top.