Here in the Northern hemisphere, it’s definitely soup season. So it’s very apt that for this month’s Random Recipe challenge, Dom has teemed up with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes who runs the No Croutons Required blog challenge, which involves sharing a vegetarian soup or salad recipe. The rules for the joint challenge were simple: we had to randomly choose a soup (or salad – but I’m very definitely sticking to soup for this one) from our cookery books, and then make it. Oh, and the soup also had to be vegetarian. Easy-peasy. Or so I thought… Most of my cookery books are oriented towards desserts and baking, or specific foodstuffs like muffins or macarons, so it turns out that soup recipes are rather few and far between. But I have a fair amount of soup recipes that I’ve collected from magazines or blogs, so I decided to randomly choose one of those instead. A random number generator directed me to a rather delicious-sounding pear soup with pancetta and blue cheese soup, and I was looking forward to trying it out. Until I noticed that one of the main ingredients is pancetta (I know, it’s in the title of the recipe – how did I not notice??), which makes it very much not vegetarian. I randomly chose a further three recipes, none of which were vegetarian either (who knew there were so many non-vegetarian soups?!) and was starting to get rather frustrated at this point. So I switched tactics, and randomly picked a recipe from my mum’s folder of recipes (it’s still a randomly chosen recipe, so I’m not breaking the rules or anything… right?).
The recipe I chose was for celeriac soup, and was definitely vegetarian. Success! It’s a recipe that my mum had quickly noted down whilst watching a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cookery programme a while ago. Up until we made the soup, I’d always thought that celeriac and celery were the same thing (namely celery sticks), and were maybe just an American/British vocabulary difference or something. Turns out they’re not the same thing at all. Well, I mean they’re both from the same plant, but they are different parts. As my mum put it, celeriac tends to get a bit neglected because it’s ugly (it’s the big round thing that isn’t an onion or a potato in the photo above) and people don’t necessarily know what to do with it. Or know that it exists, if you’re me. I don’t really know how I’d describe the taste. I was sort of expecting it to taste a bit like celery sticks or something. Thankfully it doesn’t (since they taste of approximately nothing), but it doesn’t have a particularly strong taste. The soup was good, but I wouldn’t say it was ground-breaking. Because I’d never really had celeriac soup before, it was different, but ultimately, it was a bit on the bland side, and I’m not sure what I’d add to bring the flavours out better. But it hasn’t put me off from trying other celeriac soup recipes. In fact, I’m rather determined to find a delicious one! Not by the challenge deadline though, so this will have to do for now…
Adapted from a Hugh F-W recipe in my mum’s folder of recipes
Whilst this soup is good, it is a bit bland on the bland side and needs something to lift the flavour, though I’m not sure quite what (not very helpful, I know – suggestions
on a postcard in the comments welcome). The original recipe called for vegetable stock rather than water, but we felt that the flavour of the stock might over-power the fairly mild taste of the celeriac. Perhaps we were wrong and the vegetable stock would have improved the soup.
1 small leek
2 small onions
1 garlic clove
Ground nutmeg, to serve (optional)
1. Slice the leek and peel and dice the celeriac, potato, onions and garlic (none of these have to be diced or sliced perfectly evenly – it’s all going to be blended at the end…).
2. Melt some butter in a large pot on a medium-low heat, add the vegetables to soften for about 10 mins, stirring frequently so that the vegetables don’t colour.
3. Add just over 1 litre of water to the pot (the amount of water that you add depends on how thick you want your soup. Make sure that there is enough to cover the vegetables though – we used about 1.1 litre), cover and simmer for about 30-35 mins until the vegetables are cooked and tender.
4. Remove from the heat, season and either pour into a blender or use a hand-held immersion blender to blend until smooth. Return the blended soup to the heat until heated through and serve immediately, with a sprinkling of ground nutmeg and fresh bread on the side.