Celeriac has a lovely nutty flavour and is one of winter’s treats. It may look knobbly and ugly on the outside, but peel it to reveal a lovely dense creamy coloured inside. Celeriac is not a root but a clump of swollen rootstock from which the roots grow downwards and the leaves grow up and look similar to celery leaves with a stronger flavour. It is best to choose smaller celeriac with a dense flesh. Avoid extra-large specimens which tend to be woody. Celeriac discolours as soon as you cut it so either cook straight away or cover with water and a squeeze of lemon juice. Celeriac is very versatile. Here are some of our favourite combinations:
- Soup - boil or roast for extra flavour and then blend and top with caper croutons (see recipe below)
- Fritters - slice, par-boil, coat in seasoned breadcrumbs and roast or fry.
- Grated raw - mix with aioli, capers, raisins and parsley.
- Roasted – in rapeseed oil with garlic and thyme.
- Mashed - boiled and mashed with potato, 50/50 works well.
Roasted Celeriac and Caraway Soup with Herb & Caper Croutons
Serves 4-6 | Dietary: Vegan, Wheat Free (without the croutons)
- 1 medium celeriac (approx.900g before peeling)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- Bouquet garni of bay, rosemary and sage (see below)
- 600ml vegetable stock, preferably homemade
- 100ml soya milk (or other dairy free milk)
- Pre heat the oven to 200c/ gas mark 6. Peel the celeriac using a sharp peeler and remove any areas where the roots are still visible. Chop into 1 cm cubes and place in a roasting tin with a splash of rapeseed or vegetable oil.
- Roast the celeriac for 25 minutes or until it is softened and golden around the edges. Add the caraway seeds and return to the oven for another five minutes.
- While the celeriac is roasting heat a little oil in a large sauce pan and gently cook the onion, until it is really soft and starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and fry for another 5 minutes.
- Add the roasted celeriac, bouquet garni and caraway to the onion mixture and stir well.
- Pour on the stock and soya milk and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the bouquet garni and blend until smooth with a hand blender. Taste, season and serve
- A bouquet garni is a small bunch of herbs that you add to soups and stews to infuse the dish with flavour-it is removed before serving. Traditionally the herbs are “hard herbs” such as bay, rosemary, sage, thyme, all of which grow well in the British winter. You can tie them together with clean string (you can buy cooking string from kitchen shops) or use a heatproof plastic freezer clip-one that has been washed in a hot dishwasher or placed in boiling water before use to sterilise.
- Make it a meal: to make this soup more of a meal in a bowl add some beans-we use tinned cannellini beans or chick peas which are full of protein. You could also add lentils-tinned or dried.
- To make a delicious side dish simply roast the celeriac as above but don’t add the liquid, make the croutons and mix the two together-this will make a delicious warm side or a warm salad served with crisp leaves such as rocket and watercress.
- Seasonal variations: this soup works well with carrots, Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes instead of celeriac-or use a mixture of vegetables
Herb and Caper Croutons
Dietary: Vegan | Makes enough for this soup and more.
- 100g stale bread (see below) cut into very small cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- Zest of a lemon
- A large handful of parsley-or a selection of herbs that you like
- 1 tbsp capers
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200c/ gas mark 6
- Heat a roasting dish in the oven. Add the oil and then the bread and mix well.
- Cook in the oven for approximately 10 minutes and then add the chopped garlic and stir in. Return to the oven and roast for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the bread is crispy and golden.
- Finely chop the herbs and capers together with the lemon zest.
- Add the chopped herbs to the crispy croutons and mix together. Taste and add pepper (you probably won’t need salt as the capers are salty already)
- Use to garnish the soup-any leftovers can be stored in an airtight box in the fridge and will keep for about 3 days.
- These croutons are a great way of using up stale bread-they are traditionally made with sourdough or ciabatta style bread. You can also use a wheat free or spelt bread.
- Croutons on their own (without added herbs) will keep for weeks in a sealed container out of the fridge-once you add fresh herbs they won’t last so long and need to be kept cold.
- If you like things spicy add some flaked chilli to the croutons.
- Croutons don’t need to be just for soup-they are also great added to pasta dishes, rice or salads.
- Vary the herbs that you use - parsley is ideal but basil, chives, dill, sorrel and coriander would also work.
Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures