Celeriac, The Ugly Duckling Of Vegetables
Before we bid farewell to March, let’s take a moment to honor a vegetable that gets overlooked and neglected. This ugly duckling often sits alone on the grocery store as people walk by, not knowing what to do with it. Others ignore it blatantly because of its rough and ugly exterior.
Known to some as celeriac and to others as celery root, Celeriac has many cousins, parsnips, carrots, fennel and celery. All belong to the ‘Apiaceae family’. This ugly duckling promises to become a beautiful swan, once you take it home and give it a chance.
They prefer a temperate climate and so are plentiful in most northern European countries. As soon as you begin to cook this vegetable you may detect a slight anise aroma, I did when I made my soup.
It is best to peel this with a sharp paring knife rather than a peeler. I have used this vegetable in several ways. Most recently I made a celeriac gratin with ‘Cashel Blue Cheese’. It can be added to any stew or soup or even sautéed in olive oil and sea salt to make delicious celeriac fries.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 small onions, chopped
1 head celeriac, peeled & chopped
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 quart vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream
salt & pepper
GARNISH: cream, chopped chives and bacon SERVES: 4
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Sauté the onions and bacon approx 3 minutes.
Add celeriac, bay leaf and stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring this to a boil. I like to keep the cream handy in case I want to add some for more flavor or if I need a different consistency.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth.
Garnish with a little swirl of cream, some chopped crispy bacon and chives.