There are few meal experiences I enjoy more than a steamy cup of comforting soup while I can hear the wind howling outside my window. This week’s share offered a wonderful fall change up with a lot of new items. I roasted some celeriac and parsnips along with a beautiful head of cauliflower, puréed then mixed with a quick vegetable stock made from some of the carrots, celeriac stalks, and onions in this weeks share. All of this comes together to create a slightly sweet and earthy soup. Topped with a little arugula and served with some lovely crusty bread makes the perfect cold weather lunch.
This is celeriac, it is the root of a specific celery variety. It tastes similar to celery but more substantial, and is prepared like other root vegetables. Celeriac has a gnarly, tough exterior that needs to be peeled with a knife. Once peeled it can be roasted, or can be eaten raw in salads or slaw. I already removed bottom and the top stems (visable in the background of this pictures, I saved these stalks to be used in my vegetable stock), this creates a flat surface on either side, so that you can easily cut off what remains of the exterior. Using your knife from top to bottom and moving around the root, slice the outer layer until all of the hairy skin is removed and you are left with just the white root.
Cut this root into quarters, then into large rough squarish chunks about 1 1/2″. Set these pieces aside. Next peel the parsnips and cut them into squarish pieces, the same size as the celeriac. Place celeriac and parsnips in a bowl and toss with extra virgin olive oil and Kosher salt.
Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower and then cut the head in half so you can easily remove the florets from the main stalk. You can save any large chunks of the cauliflower stalk to be used in the vegetable stock.
Toss these florets in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil and Kosher salt.
Place the parsnips/celeriac and the cauliflower on separate sheet pans, and roast at 350° for about 45 minutes. They are done when they have become browned and you can easily insert a knife with very little resistance. About half way through cooking use a spatula to redistribute the vegetables in the pan so they brown evenly. When they are done remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
While the vegetables are roasting start caramelizing the onions. I use a heavy Le Cruset pot that I will use later when finishing the soup. The caramelized onions, are reduced with some white wine and puréed with the vegetables to add flavor to the soup. Slice the onions thinly, heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat, then add the onions. Allow onions to cook until transparent and just starting to brown, stirring frequently.
Add a tablespoon of butter, if you are using butter – this can be omitted if you want to make a non-dairy soup, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow onions to cook slowly until they are soft and well browned, stirring occasionally. This will take about 30 minutes.
At this point add about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits of onion from the bottom of the pot. Allow the wine to reduce by 3/4, so you should have around a 1/2 cup of liquid when it is done.
Place the roasted vegetables and carmalized onions with reduced wine in a food precessor bowl.
Run the food processor until the vegetables are broken down, add a cup of vegetable stock then continue to run the food processor until you have a fairly thick paste, add additional vegetable stock while processing to thin the purée as needed.
Transfer the vegetable paste to the pot used for the onions and add a 3 – 4 cups of vegetable stock. Mix the stock and the purée with a whisk until well combined. The texture should be thick, while still fluid.
Heat the soup over medium-low heat and adjust seasoning. I added some Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar – none of those individual ingredients come through strongly in the end taste of the soup, but together they lend to a richer taste overall. Start with about a teaspoon each of soy sauce and Worcestershire, and 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar. From there adjust as needed, add salt as needed, and additional vegetable stock to thing the soup as needed. Allow the soup to simmer about 5 – 10 minutes longer. Soup can be kept in refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for 2 – 3 months. Serve hot with a bit of chopped arugula that has been tossed lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
For the vegetable stock clean and roughly chop 1/2 pound of celeriac stalks, 1/2 pound of peeled carrots and 1 pound of onions and any bits of cauliflower stalk left over from trimming the cauliflower.
Place all vegetables in a large stock pot along with several sprigs of thyme and parsley. Add water until the vegetables are just covered, about 1 gallon.
Bring contents to a steady but slow simmer and allow to cook for 45 minutes. Strain the vegetables and reserve the liquid in the refrigerator for up to a week, or up to six months in the freezer. This will make about 3 quarts of vegetable stock.