Celeriac (also known as Celery Root, Knob Celery and Turnip-rooted Celery) is a root vegetable and a member of the celery family. It's recognisable by its knobbly bulbous base that is usually crowned by deep green celery-type stalks.
Nutritionally, Celeriac contains Vitamins C and B6, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Riboflavin along with Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc. It's also high in dietary fibre.
Its appearance probably puts it in the "too hard" basket and accounts for its less than popular status. It's a shame though as the minor effort needed to prepare celeriac is more than adequately compensated by it's taste.
To prepare the celeriac, make sure you have a bowl of acidulated water to stop the cut celeriac from turning brown - then just cut away the hard outer skin, I find a vegetable knife is the best tool for this.
When it comes to recipes for celeriac it's fairly hard to go past the classic Celeriac Remoulade, which is basically grated or matchstick-sized slivers of raw Celeriac tossed in a grainy mustard mayonnaise. However, since the weather is a touch on the cool side I decided to make a silky smooth Celeriac Soup instead!
1 celeriac, cleaned and cut into small dice
1 small leek, quartered and diced
fresh chicken stock
salt and freshly ground white pepper
milk or cream
Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat - add the diced leek and gently let this soften but not colour. It's important to keep stirring to make sure the leek doesn't colour and it cooks evenly.
Once it's soft and translucent add the diced celeriac - keep stirring to mix it with the leek and let it cook for a couple of minutes before adding the stock (or water if you prefer). Add just enough stock to cover the celeriac and let it simmer, uncovered, until the celeriac is very soft.
Place the hot mixture into a blender and process until smooth - for an ultra smooth result you can then push the soup through a strainer. Pour this out into a clean saucepan and add enough milk to bring it to a soup consistency. You could use cream for a richer result.
Taste and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper - place the soup back on a low heat and slowly bring it back to serving temperature.
Serve at once.
I've kept this soup very simple for a good reason - because I wanted to savour the subtle taste of celeriac and really enjoy its unique texture. Made this way it's like drinking silk - it just slips over your tongue.