I’m so glad this is “Celery Week!” I’ve long been a fan. I’ll often braise celery in chicken stock, add a spritz of hot sauce for pizzaz, and serve it as a “side” for a company dinner. My dad was a celery fan, too. Years ago I found a recipe among my mom’s cookbooks for something called “Essence of Celery Soup.” Everyone who ate it loved it, but the recipe has disappeared. Lately I’ve been trying to recapture the lovely, “light Spring” flavor of that long ago soup. I think this is it! —ChefJune
- Makes 6 88-ounce servings
strips top quality bacon (we like Nueske’s)
pound fresh celery stalks with leaves
medium white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
dry white wine
medium Russet (or other starchy) potato
light chicken or vegetable stock
A dash of Louisiana hot sauce
- Cut celery into even-sized pieces, about ½ inch to 1 inch thick, depending on diameter. This will help the celery to cook evenly. Peel the potato and cut it into pieces about the same size as the celery.
- In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and set aside. Keep 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot and save the remainder for another use.
- Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is slightly translucent, stirring more or less continuously. Add sea salt and white pepper.
- Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.
- Add the stock and the potato. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the celery and potatoes are soft enough that they can easily be pierced with a knife. Don't let them get mushy, though.
- Remove from heat and purée with a stick blender. Add hot sauce. Bring to a simmer again, adding more stock to adjust the thickness if necessary
- Crumble the bacon generously over each bowl of soup before serving piping hot.