Contrary to popular belief, celery root is not the root of the celery stalks we see in stores. It is closely related botanically but is bred specifically for the root instead of the stalks. It has a distinctive taste of celery and parsley with earthy notes and the texture of a not-so-starchy potato. Looking at it you might think it is difficult to prepare. But once you cut the ends off and remove the knobby exterior with a vegetable peeler or knife, it’s ready to use in lots of delicious recipes!
What it lacks in looks it makes up for in versatility and flavor. It can be boiled and mashed, sauteed, roasted. In other words, it can be cooked in most of the same ways as potatoes, but it is a far healthier alternative. It is lower in calories, a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and manganese and is a very good source of vitamin C and calcium. It adds delicious flavor and crunch when added raw to salads. If using it raw, I suggest tossing it in some acidulated water first to prevent it from turning brown. Dice it up and add it to soups and stews. Don’t ignore this strange, gnarly root vegetable in the produce section! Try this Celery Root and Fennel Soup and I think you will agree, appearances can be seriously overrated!
Celery Root and Fennel Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 cups diced fennel bulb
- 1½ pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 2” cubes (2 pounds if you want to roast some for garnish)
- 1 medium russet potato (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 2” cubes
- 1 bay leaf
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- Melt butter in a large stock pot on medium high heat.
- Stir in the onions and salt and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, fennel, celery root, potato, bay leaf, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are very soft.
- Remove the bay leaf and purée the soup using a food processor, blender, or one of my favorite tools, an immersion or stick blender.
- Stir in cream and white pepper.
- Garnish with fennel fronds and optionally, roasted cubes of celery root.
- To roast celery root, toss small cubes in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in a 400° oven until golden brown. Garnish each serving of soup with 4 or 5 pieces of crispy, creamy roasted celery root for the perfect final touch.