Successful soup-making is one of those useful things that has eluded me all my life. All my life, that is, until today
Whoever it was said that thing about ‘old dogs’ and ‘new tricks’ was talking rubbish.. I got a big head of organic celery at St Georges yesterday. I wanted it for our family favourite vegetable dish Celery in White Sauce (I’ll tell you about that another time) which I duly made, but was then left with a decent amount of fresh celery, which was looking, I’m sorry to say, a little wilted. That’s when the words ‘Cream of Celery soup’ popped into my head. So I decided to go for it. This is a really easy soup, and very creamy and rich too. Perfect for a substantial lunch with some wheaten bread; or in a cup, as a tasty starter. If I can turn out something as impressive as this with very little effort, so can you
- A medium/large high-sided saucepan
- A hand blender or processor
- Measuring jug
- 25g butter
- 350g of celery, including the leaves, well washed and roughly chopped
- half a medium onion, roughly chopped
- 110g peeled raw potato, chopped and well rinsed
- 600ml hot vegetable stock (I used Bouillon powder – See NOTES)
- 200ml whole milk (cold)
- 100ml single or whipping cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to serve.
- ground pepper
METHOD: I made this soup while I was doing something else in the kitchen – it meant I wasn’t standing around waiting for the celery to soften etc. In that respect, it almost made itself..
- Melt the butter on a med-high heat
- Add the celery, the potatoes and the onions, and stir to coat all the pieces in the butter.
- Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and allow to cook gently for about 15-20 minutes.
- Add the hot stock and some pepper, and stir in. I don’t add salt as that Bouillon powder can be quite salty anyway. Allow to cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are fully cooked (try squeezing a piece of potato against the side of the pot – it should mash easily)
- Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes before you blitz it.( It’s always going to spit a bit, as you blend it, so the 5 minute cooling-off period is so you don’t get burned) This is also why a high-sided pot is best.
- Using your stick blender (preferably), blitz the soup until there are no visible bits left – it should be really quite smooth. If you’re a real perfectionist, you could strain it as this stage. I know that this will come as a shock, but I didn’t strain it.. 😉
- Before you return it to the heat, add the cold milk, and then the cream – it becomes a beautiful, smooth, creamy colour.
- Taste for seasoning, and adjust as required.
- Ladle into bowl, then grate some nutmeg over the top just before serving.
- Stick blenders: you could go out an buy yourself a state-of-the-art version, they’re not hugely expensive. Or you could do what I do – buy a supermarket’s own brand from the ‘small appliances’ aisle – my last one was a fiver. I usually buy two, so that I always have one in reserve, in case the present one dies, or falls into a sink of sudsy water. Yes, this is my life… anything that can go wrong in your kitchen has already happened in mine!
- Bouillon powder – this can make things very salty if you don’t follow the instructions on the packaging, so make sure you don’t make the stock too strong.
- Handy hint: if you do make something too salty, you can save it by putting a whole, peeled, uncooked potato into the dish and allow it to cook – it seems to absorb extra salt
- Before you trot this lovely soup out to a crowd, make sure no one’s allergic to Celery..