Sunday, March 11, 2012

Creamy Celeriac Soup

If you are at all familiar with the Seattle food scene, chances are you've probably visited at least one of the many great restaurants owned by chef  Tom Douglas. It is always one of the main highlights for my family to eat at one (or more) of his restaurants whenever we are in town. For instance the last time we spent a weekend there, we stayed 2 nights and we darkened the doors of his establishments 4 times. Not only is the food wonderful, the service has been A++ every single time, which is really saying something in my opinion. So if you are ever in the Seattle area I highly recommend you give one of his places a try.

Okay, the point. Recently we were out to dinner at one of said great restaurants, this time it happened to be the  Dahlia Lounge, which is his flagship restaurant. This dinner was kind of a big deal because my husband and I were celebrating our 12th anniversary with a rare weekend away from the kids. We were sipping the most amazing cocktails ( mine was a martini made with douglas fir-infused vodka, cherry juice and the most amazing alcohol-soaked sour cherries) & having a great time. We ordered a variety of  "little tastes from the sea bar", including petite bites of  raw tuna, Kona Kampachi & house-smoked salmon to name a few. When it came time to order the entree my husband was a little surprised when I decided to order the celeriac soup (he ordered the very popular 5-spice duck, which was amazing btw). I've learned over the years that one of the best ways to order from a menu is to follow instinct and don't over think it. Having never actually tasted celeriac before, I was intrigued. I ordered it, I loved it & I couldn't wait to get home and try making my own version.

If you have never tried celeriac or celery root before, it is the actual root that grows under the celery stalk. It has a very mild, sweet celery flavor. This is a great soup for spring. The flavors are light and bright, but it is hearty enough to warm the belly during those crisp spring days. This recipe isn't really much like the one I had at the Dahlia Lounge (the one I had was flavored with preserved lemon, chorizo sausage and cilantro), but I had to pay tribute to the man who turned me on to this great vegetable. Thanks Tom!

Creamy Celeriac Soup
~serves 6~

Note* To easily clean leeks, cut off the dark green tops. Halve the leek lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. Separating the layers with your fingers, rinse well under running water. Ready to use.

Note** Use caution when pureeing hot liquids in a blender. Be sure to only fill the blender about half full of hot liquid. Remove the small inner lid of the blender lid and lay a folded towel over the opening to allow steam to  escape.

2 T. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. chopped leek (2-3 medium leeks, white & light green parts only)
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 c. dry vermouth or white wine
4 c. celeriac,peeled & rough chopped, about 3/4 inch pieces (about 1 large celeriac)
1 med. potato, peeled & rough chopped
6 c. low-sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth can be substituted)
3/4 c. half n half 
1 T. lemon juice
salt & fresh ground pepper
freshly minced chives

1. Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, saute 5 minutes, until leeks begin to soften. Add bay leaf, thyme sprigs and vermouth or wine. Reduce for 2 minutes, until reduced by about 2/3. 
Add celeriac, potato, broth and 1/4 t. salt & 1/4 pepper. Bring soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook until celery root and potato are very tender, about 35-40 minutes.

2. In a blender, puree the soup in batches. Add the soup back into the dutch oven. Add half n half & lemon juice. Warm over medium-low until hot. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with minced chives.


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