Today I introduce to you a chunky celery soup made from everything that needed to be used up in my kitchen - celery, carrots, a potato, an onion, a bit of garlic, and some leftover wild rice. And while it might sound a bit boring, this soup is exactly what you want on a cold night. It's a study in dualities - both hearty and light, chunky yet brothy, simple with plenty going on.
My bunch of celery had plenty of lively celery leaves at its crown, so I decided to make a quick pesto-style drizzle with them. Sometimes it is hard to find celery with the leaves intact, and don't worry if you can't get them, the soup is delicious on its own. Alternately you might experiment with any thinned pesto you might have on hand (for ex: I made a parsley oregano pesto the other night, would have be great here), a tapenade might be good, or a drizzle of chile oil? I do love the way the celery leaf pesto heightens the celery flavor in the soup, but again - don't let it discourage you if you can't get them.
Chunky Celery Soup Recipe
Really, you can use just about any cooked medium-sized grain in this recipe. I chose wild rice because I love it alongside celery. You could try a plump brown rice, barley, or even wheatberry here with good results. AS I mentioned up above, I was lucky enough to come across celery with the leaves intact on top. I made a drizzle out of one cup (lightly packed) celery leaves, 1 large clove of garlic, about 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Puree all of these ingredients in a food processor for about 30 seconds.
1 large onion
1 large russet potato
3-4 small -medium carrots
10 medium-length stalks of celery, washed well
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cups of lightly-flavored, great tasting, vegetable broth (or water)
2 cups cooked wild rice, brown rice, barley, or wheat berries
1/3 cup celery leaf pesto (optional, but see head notes)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)
Chop the onion, potato, carrots, and celery into pieces that are about 1/2-inch or smaller. Do your best to cut everything roughly the same size, this will keep cooking time across the ingredients somewhat uniform. You should end up with about 2 1/2 cups of chopped celery.
In a large thick-bottomed soup pot over medium high heat combine the olive oil, onion, potato, carrots, celery and a few big pinches of salt. Saute for about ten minutes or until the onions and celery soften a touch and expel some water. Stir in the garlic and add the stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook for another 10 minutes or until the celery, carrot and potatoes are just cooked through - resist the urge to over cook them into mush. Stir in the rice a few minutes before the potatoes and carrot are cooked though. Remove the soup from the heat and ladle into soup bowls. Top each with a generous drizzle of the celery leaf pesto (opt) and/or some Parmesan cheese.
Serves about 6.