Make Ahead

Cream of Apple and Celery Root Soup with Tarragon

March 19, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This recipe asks you to trust in the power of some very humble ingredients. You will be rewarded with a soup that is complex and delicious. You'll also discover how creamy and satisfying this soup can be, even though it contains no milk, cream, or butter. Slowly cooking the ingredients before deglazing with white wine helps to create a nice depth of flavor. (I chose to use water instead of stock in this recipe because when the water is added to the sautéed ingredients, fresh herbs, and spices, it creates a quick homemade stock that provides clarity to the dish in a way that generic vegetable stock could never do.)
Josh Cohen

What You'll Need
  • Olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds celery root, trimmed and peeled, cut into a medium dice
  • 2 apples
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs tarragon, plus 2 tablespoons reserved chopped tarragon leaves for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 6 cups water
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat, add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they begin to soften and turn translucent, stirring occasionally. Season with a small pinch of salt.
  2. Add the celery root, season with a pinch of salt, and continue to cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the celery root is cooking, peel and core the apples, and cut them into thin slices.
  3. Peeling, coring, and slicing the apples probably took you about 5 minutes, so add the apples now. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, white pepper, bay leaves and tarragon sprigs. Give everything a stir. Add the white wine, turn the heat up to high, and cook until the liquid has almost entirely evaporated, stirring occasionally. Add the water, bring the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat so that the soup maintains a slow simmer. Gently cook the soup until the celery root is very soft. To test how soft the celery root is, stab it with a fork from time to time.
  4. When the celery root is ready, turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves and tarragon sprigs from the soup. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, and blend on high speed until the soup is velvety smooth. If the soup is looking too thick, add a little water as necessary until you’ve achieved a better consistency. When all of the soup is blended, taste it. Adjust as necessary with salt, cayenne, and white pepper. To serve, garnish each bowl with some chopped tarragon and a drizzle of your best olive oil.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Melissa Y
    Melissa Y
  • ChefJune
  • Sheri D. Maple
    Sheri D. Maple
  • Josh Cohen
    Josh Cohen

18 Reviews

cosmiccook November 25, 2019
Got another rendition in the fridge--finishing it up today. This time I did a celery, 2 baby parsnips, apple peels, fennel stalks, parsley stems and 1 little white carrot as a stock. I'm cook the celery root and apples in it.
I LOVE the idea of the pear w this soup. Had I seen that before I made the apple version, I would have done it. I don't care for rosemary so Savory, Chervil and cardamon would be my choice. And a blue cheese/creme fresh swirl.
Melissa Y. November 24, 2019
I ran out of apples and subbed a cup of cider for the water, which was a mistake. It was definitely sweet. BUT, it is a quintessential fall recipe, incredibly healthy, inexpesive and filling, so I'd make it again in a heartbeat (sans the swap and minus an apple).
Amy November 11, 2019
I just made this and it is very sweet. I used Fuji apples, do you think they are sweeter than other types?
cosmiccook November 12, 2019
Amy, I made this 2 nights ago after reading EPI recipe for Apples and Parsnips. Most people said the same thing as the recipe called for FUJI apples. Josh, sorry to mess w your recipe but I combined them both. I had a 1/2 head of celery past its prime so I made a celery stock w some fennel stalks and carrot. I also used some apple cider and GRANNY SMITH apples. Still a little sweet--even when adding Quatre Epice (french 4 spice). I pureed one chipotle pepper w the rest and its perfect balance.
cosmiccook September 22, 2018
Thanks Josh! As soon as we get a WIFF of cooler weather, I will do small batch tests of each. But seriously, when is a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper considered a lot? You got what, 8 cups total of soup --I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how this would be hot using the listed peppers. I'd understand if you were using Devil peppers but I don't bother cooking w cayenne with all the other options out there. I'd swap Aleppo pepper for a lemony taste.
cosmiccook September 22, 2018
Way too much pepper? I'll probably have to increase it. Will chicken stock diminish the celery flavor? What about a vegetable stock? Celery Root in New Orleans is NEVER inexpensive (app. $3 a LB) though I love it.
Josh C. September 22, 2018
Hi cosmiccook, I like that you'll probably increase the pepper - I could see this recipe working well as a spicy New Orleans soup. It would be interesting to test whether chicken stock would enhance the flavor of the celery root or diminish it. Off the top of my head, I'm honestly not sure what would happen. I did originally use water here though, for simplicity and clarity of flavor. I could see chicken stock creating something richer and more savory, but less about the celery root.
cosmiccook October 2, 2022
I've adopted your philosophy of "just because you can use Chix Stock, SHOULD YOU? I'm experimenting w the "water" only to produce clear flavors. So thanks, I really enjoy your recipes & cooking techniques. Gave my brother all the makings for Scallop Risotto w YOUR recipe for making it.
Michelle December 23, 2016
Made this tonight as written except for minor changes: used 1 cup of wine, 1/8th tsp of white and cayenne pepper, and used both thyme and tarragon. Yum, yum, yum. Even my little ones loved it. I served it with a brie, ham, and apple galette.
btglenn February 19, 2016
I cook with celery root frequently, for soup, salad, and as a side-dish puree with sweet potato.
My soup is made with celery root and rutabaga, and, rather than apple. Occasionally I add daikon radish to the mix. Since I don't like tarragon's anise flavor, I use dried thyme and oregano, fresh parsley and cilantro. I also add a little sriracha hot sauce and a little soy. For liquid, instead of wine, I add Almond milk and sometimes substitute chicken broth for the water. I puree coarsely, to give the soup some texture. To serve, top with sour cream and chopped scallion leaves, and have your eaters mix the topping into the soup before eating.
ChefJune January 7, 2016
This is going on my "to make' list, but not with all that pepper! Whew. Easy to change that, tho.
Sheri D. January 3, 2016
Hi Josh, I made this recipe yesterday late afternoon and it came out great with the roasted celery root. I used hard apple cider because I was too lazy to make a trip to the wine and it was available at Whole Foods. I forgot the white pepper but added a little more cayenne pepper after pureeing soup. I needed to because adding water diluted some of the flavors. My only regret was that I didn't make an apple and cheddar grilled sandwich to go with the sandwich. I placed some of it in the freezer to take to work for lunch. Thanks for the recipe.
Josh C. January 3, 2016
Hi Sheri, I'm glad that you had success roasting the celery root. I always encourage home cooks to understand the spirit of a recipe and make adjustments as they see fit. I hope that you continue to tailor recipes to your needs and have fun with it.
Mary L. December 27, 2015
I made this the day before Christmas to serve as a first course. It was way too hot and I had to throw it out, as my guests do not like such hot foods. If I were to make it again, I would cut cayenne and white pepper in half. I ran to the store in the morning, got potatoes and leeks and made vichyssoise, served hot. Everyone was happy.
Judi D. December 20, 2015
The list of ingredients says 'tarragon sprigs,' while the recipe says 'remove thyme sprigs.' The photo looks like tarragon. I'd prefer to use thyme but which herb did you mean?
Josh C. December 21, 2015
Thanks Judi for pointing out this discrepancy. I have edited the recipe. Where it said "thyme sprigs" it now reads "tarragon sprigs." However, if you want to use thyme instead of tarragon, I think it would taste delicious. The thyme will be subtler, whereas the tarragon will have more of an anise flavor.
Sheri D. December 16, 2015
This sounds like a great recipe to cook. I was thinking while reading the recipe, an idea of roasting the celery root may also be good. I'm looking forward to cook this recipe both ways. Thanks.
Josh C. December 21, 2015
Hi Sheri, if you end up roasting the celery root, I would love to know how it turned out. This is a versatile recipe, and i'm glad to hear that you're thinking about experimenting with it