Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sometimes You Have to Look Below the Surface

At the end of October, The Splendid Table's weekly recipe, "Weeknight Kitchen", arrived in my inbox. In keeping with the fall season, a root vegetable was the focus. I had not yet tried one of these suggested recipes, but Celery Root Soup with Blue Cheese felt like the recipe to start with. I've never tasted celery root and I was up for trying something new. Also, when it comes to autumn, I find it hard to turn down food that celebrates this season. The recipe is from Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont by Melissa Pasanen with Rick Gencarelli.

Finding a decent celery root took two tries and the price of $4.99 a pound gave me an appreciation for this ingredient before I even tasted it. The voice behind The Splendid Table, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, advised me to look for a root that is firm and as smooth as possible. She also recommended going with high quality blue cheese. I opted for a Pacific Northwest favorite: Gorgonzola.

Celery root is a big, ugly bulbous root with smaller roots growing out of the bottom. Peeling it is not much different from peeling a potato, but eliminating the smaller roots felt a little counterintuitive. As I cut the small roots away, I began to worry about just how much weight I was losing and how the loss would affect the taste of the soup. I decided to add my flavorful cheese slowly and pressed forward. The rest of the directions were easy enough, I had to simmer the celery root in milk for about 30 minutes and then blend it with the cheese and chicken stock. Lemon juice and a topping of crumbled cheese made the meal complete.

I loved the earthiness of the delicate celery flavor and the cheese was a wonderful compliment. The taste of the soup ended with a little bitterness and it seemed a little dry. This wasn't so noticeable at first, but after a while I decided to add oyster crackers. I think that my bowl of soup would have made a better cup of soup for me. I'm so glad I tried celery root an I would definitely try it again.

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