Celeriac or celery root have been on sale here in the UK for years now. As I’m not overly keen on celery, regardless of constantly using it in sauces and gravies, I’ve never bothered to try celeriac before. Which surprises me, especially as one of my favourite soups is celery and pear with ripe Stilton. Admittedly, the reason for buying celeriac in the first place was to bake them with potatoes and onions as a gratin. Well, I forgot to buy the lemons needed to prevent the celeriac from discolouring. That might be my next post – the gratin, not the celeriac from discolouring…shesszh. Anyway, I was on the hunt for a cheese that would go with celeriac and found this post titled, Winter Warmer, that suggested Gruyère. Great! Until I realised that neither of the two local supermarkets I use sell it. So, the only cheese I figured might just work was a small block of smoked Cheddar with a hint of paprika. Sometimes it’s difficult to guess when you haven’t even tasted the main vegetable. Pleased to say the pairing works. So, too, does the lemon with just a hint of paprika and cayenne within the soup. Have to admit, even though I was impressed with this soup, Celeriac and Pear Soup just ain’t going to be one of my all-time favourite vegetables. I far prefer Brassicas, especially Brussels sprouts at this time of year. However, if I was cooking for guests, and wanted to impress them (not that I need to, mind) I would definitely make this again. Especially as this stored really well overnight.
Celeriac and Pear Soup, with crispy bacon and smoked Cheddar cheese
- olive oil
- 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, peeled, trimmed and chopped
- 1 x dried bay leaf
- 2 x medium garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed and chopped
- scant 1/4 x teaspoon paprika, start with less, taste and add more to personal taste
- 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes, start with less, taste and add more to personal taste
- 1 x lemon, rolled under palms, sliced in half, juice squeezed through a sieve, ½ used with water for the celeriac, the other 1/2 for the pears
- water for the 1/2 lemon juice for the celeriac, about a ratio of 3:1 (1 being the lemon juice)
- 240g (8.46 oz) x celeriac (after peeling), peeled, chopped into small chunks and placed in the water and lemon to prevent discolouration
- 220g (7.76 oz) x firm Conference pears, peeled, cored and placed in lemon juice
- 500 – 700ml (1.056 – 1.47 US pt lqd) x cold water, cook with 500ml then add more after liquidising/blending the soup
- 1 x organic very low salt vegetable stock cube
- streaky bacon, pan-fried separately, broken into small pieces when cool enough to do so
- single/light cream, for serving
- smoked Cheddar cheese with a hint of paprika
- ciabatta or favourite bread, toasted
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- It’s probably not absolutely necessary to caramelise the onions for as long as I did. However, I’m not overly keen on onions that haven’t been allowed to caramelise for as long as possible. Because of that I put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6) and add enough oil to coat its base when hot. Then, I add the onions and bay leaf and allow them to settle, stirring through occasionally. Then, heat is reduced to No 1 and I leave them for up to an hour to get them really nicely golden all over. All that’s needed is a splash or two of water to prevent them from drying out. By that stage I add the garlic and take off heat. Both cayenne and paprika are added at this stage. Add less of both initially as more can be added once the soup has been liquidised or blended.
- Prep the celeriac, putting the chunks into the water and lemon juice.
- Prep the pears and add them to pure lemon juice.
- When the onions are nicely golden add the celeriac, without the water and lemon, to the onions. Add the pears with the lemon juice. Pour in the 500ml (1.056 US pt lqd) of water, add the stock cube, up the heat to No 4, once at boiling point add a lid and reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until celeriac and pears are soft.
- Allow to cool sufficiently, remove the bay leaf, and liquidise or blend the soup. Add more water to desired consistency. Taste for spices and add a pinch more of both cayenne and paprika if necessary. Put back on heat to serve. Do not reheat the soup with cream as it’ll curdle.
- Serve with single/light cream, pan-fried streaky bacon bits and smoked Cheddar with a hint of paprika on toasted bread.
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