Today should mark the end of the holiday vacation for most school children but Mother Nature has played a cruel joke on this part of the nation by offering up plenty of snow accompanied by frigid temperatures. The area schools have all called a snow day for tomorrow, not because of snow however, but because of the severe cold. This is a first since I relocated to the frozen tundra, as I like to call it, but understandable as temps are predicted to drop to negative 25 degrees with wind chill temps a whopping—–wait for it——negative 55!! Can you believe it? Unless you are from Alaska, I guess not. This is crazy talk for this California girl so what do I do about it? Well, first of all, I stay indoors where it is cozy and warm and allow my thoughts to drift to a steaming bowl of soup. Got to have something that will warm you from the inside out.
Winter is a challenge for those of us who try to eat local and seasonal so I go for the root vegetables. Today I highlight the often overlooked carrot and pair it with the underutilized celery root. Carrots are a staple in my house as they add a ton of flavor to soups and stews and have been lauded for their health-giving properties for over 2,000 years. High in vitamin A and beta-carotene they give a big nutritional bang for your buck. Mother would always say, “Eat your carrots, they are good for your eyes” and as you know, mother knows best. I always buy mine with the greens attached as they are a good indicator of freshness. Look for greens that are bright green and not dried out. Be sure to remove the greens as soon as you get them home as they will rob the roots of moisture and vitamins. The greens can be used as you would use the herb parsley as they are first cousins and have a similar flavor. Try making the Carrot Top Pesto I featured on my blog last January. You will be very surprised how delicious it is. Now on t0 celeriac or celery root. This rather homely, knobby vegetable is gaining popularity and is often featured on restaurant menus as a puree or mash with potatoes or raw in a salad. Its taste is a cross between celery and parsley and can vary in size from that of an apple or a small cantaloupe. It is actually the root of a special celery cultivated specifically for its root. The greens are usually detached before they are sold. So look for a smaller, firm root without soft spots and a minimum of rootlets or knobs. It must be peeled before using and it is wise to soak it in acidulated water (water w/ lemon juice or other acid) to prevent browning. It is very versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked. I urge you to give this veggie a try.
CARROT AND CELERIAC SOUP Serves 6
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
2T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobo sauce), chopped
½ t adobo sauce
½ c dry white wine
4c chicken stock plus another 1c to thin, if necessary
3 ½ c carrot (about 3 large), peeled and shredded
1 ½ c celeriac, peeled and shredded
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream or Greek yogurt and chives or scallion greens for garnish
- Heat oil in a large soup pot.
- Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook stirring until garlic is soft and aromatic. Stir in the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the white wine and the 4c of stock. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the carrots and celeriac and season to taste w/ salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for one hour.
- Puree in blender or food processor or use an immersion blender. Return to pot.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Serve hot. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and some snipped chives or greens of scallions.
Note: Celeriac needs to be peeled aggressively removing the rough outside skin and brown, using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. I shredded the vegetables using the shredding blade of my food processor which makes it go very fast. I then wiped out the processor and used it again for the puree. If you do not care to shred, you can cut the vegetables into a medium dice and puree in batches using a blender or process in the soup pot using an immersion blender.
The carrots give it a sweetness and a beautiful deep color. I added the chipotle and adobo for some heat and smokiness which is balanced by the mild flavor of the celeriac and acidity of the white wine. You can adjust the amount of chipotle and adobo to suit your palate.
Here’s hoping you are all safe and warm. Let’s send prayers for those not so blessed. It is a new year and I hope you have resolved to keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. From my kitchen to yours, nothing says love like a hot bowl of soup. Make some today. Until next time, Jeanne