When my CSA share arrived this week with fresh organic celery in it, I was inspired immediately to make a creamed soup with it. The two bunches were young and small weighing in total less than a pound and they were adorned with a full mop of leaves. With so much flavour wrapped up in this verdure, it would have seemed a shame to not use it.
And while my inspiration to make a chilled soup was in large part influenced by the 30°C (and over 40° with the Humidex) the past few weeks, there is nothing to stop you from serving this soup warm or even hot. It’s quite adaptive, so serve it to your taste, but if going for “warm,” I recommend a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream … the extra cream and ‘acid’ will really make this soup pop. Served chilled, however, it is like a crisp stalk of celery in your mouth, refreshing and cool.
A couple of notes for the recipe. First, I always use homemade chicken stock. Someday I’ll post a recipe, but there are hundreds on the net, most similar, and most quite easy to make. If you don’t have the time or space to make and store this liquid gold, then use the best quality commercially made product you can buy, preferably organic and low-sodium — and, if using a commercial stock, you’ll probably want to omit the salt from the recipe below. Secondly, as fava beans also showed up in my CSA box this week, I chose to use them to thicken the soup. If you don’t have fava beans, substitute another thickening veggie, like parsnip, potato, or even carrot. And, finally, for a garnish, I’m using my homegrown chervil, an amazing herb that before this year I didn’t really know and hadn’t experienced. It has a hint of fennel or even basil to it and it will freshen up anything as a finishing touch.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes (+ up to an hour cool down)
Total Time: approximately 90 minutes
Servings: 8 cups (2 litres)
Chilled Cream of Celery Soup
- 12 ounces (360g) young, leafy organic celery
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces (180 g) broccoli
- 16 ounces (450 g) fresh fava beans
→ approximately 1 cup of shelled beans
- 5 cups of chicken stock
- 1 cup of whipping cream
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 4 ounces (120 g) feta
- 1 teaspoon of sugar/agave/honey
- 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
→ omit salt if using a commercial chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- Fresh chervil (garnish)
- Fresh chives (garnish)
- Crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)
- Remove the tops and greens from the celery and wash very well to remove any dirt or sand (a salad spinner works well). Very coarsely chop the greens and set aside.
- Chop the onion and celery stocks. Heat the olive oil in a thick-bottomed stainless pot over medium-high heat and toss in the celery stalks and onion. Sauté for about 5-10 minutes, until softened and just golden.
- Remove the fava beans from their pods — you should produce about 1 cup per pound of fresh beans. You don’t have to go through the labour of skinning these beans since they will be puréed anyway. Wash and coarsely chop the broccoli.
- Add chicken stock, fava beans, chopped broccoli to the sautéd onions and celery and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool to ‘warm.’ Add ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add the feta, cream, and milk, and blend until smooth.
- To taste, add the agave (or honey), salt and pepper. The dish shouldn’t be sweet — the agave will just help mellow the strong flavours of the celery. The dish will continue to soften in flavour as it sits and flavours mingle in the fridge.
- For a chilled soup, remove from pot and store in fridge for up to two days in advance of serving; for warm or hot, bring to temperature again and serve.
- Garnish with fresh chervil, chives, and, optionally, some crème fraîche.
Wine Pairing: Unoaked Chardonnay.