Hey, wait, didn’t you guys make Celery Root Soup with Gorgonzola last year? Well, uh, yeah, holy crap, heh-heh, looks like we did. OMG, I’m living in Groundhog Day.
Unfortunately we didn’t realize it until after we cooked and photographed this soup. But this is different! [Insert pleading face.] Seriously. This is Celery Root and SUNCHOKE Soup with Gorgonzola.
Did you carve a pumpkin last year? Did you carve a pumpkin this year? Did you carve the exact, same face on both? I thought not. Keep reading.
Celery root has long been popular with the French. It’s native to the Mediterranean and they love–as do we we–making it into purées, soups and of course a raw salad with rémoulade dressing. Samuel de Champlain was probably not the first European to encounter them – he saw cultivated fields of them on Cape Cod in 1605 – but he does get the credit for sending them back to the old country. It was not a case of unalloyed love at first sight. According to the food writer Peggy Trowbridge Filippone the French people long avoided Jerusalem artichokes in the mistaken belief that their consumption could cause leprosy (from a perceived similarity between their shape and that of the ravaged fingers of leprosy victims). Later, because they were one of the few things, along with rutabagas, available to eat by the French during the Second World War they came to be thought of a poor people’s food.
Celery root eventually shed its déclassé reputation and today sunchokes are a prized crop in France where, in addition their popularity as a soup ingredient, their starch, called inulin, has a host of commercial applications. Despite the sweetness of sunchokes, this soup is actually less sweet than last year’s version (less cider), which I think I prefer. On an apposite note, the French term for Jerusalem artichoke, topinambour, also carries the meaning of “blockhead,” which is how I felt when I discovered last year’s post. Enjoy. Ken
*My mother shares the prejudice about rutabagas, because of the frequency which her family consumed them in New York City during WW II.
Celery Root and Sunchoke Soup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick, 1 cup
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small celery root (about ¾ pound), peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
- ¼ pound sunchokes, scrubbed, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 1 quart chicken stock
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup diced apple
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 ounce gorgonzola, frozen (to make it easier to grate)
- 1 tablespoons coarsely chopped celery leaves
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, give them a good stir, cover, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and continue sautéing the onions until they’re lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Take care not to burn them. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the cooked onions to a bowl.
- Add the remaining butter to the saucepan. Add the celery root and sunchokes and sear all over. Turn the heat to low. Add the garlic, return the onions to the pot and season with salt and pepper and cook 1 minutes. Add the apple cider and reduce to a glaze. Add the chicken stock and cook until the roots are tender enough to purée, about half an hour.
- Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree to a smooth consistency.
- Alternatively, you can strain out the stock and puree the solids in a food processor or blender, adding stock as needed to make a smooth puree. Return the puree with the stock to a clean pot.
- Whisk in the cream and and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice if necessary.
- Toss the apples with the remaining lemon juice and the tarragon.
- Serve in warm bowls.
- Grate the frozen gorgonzola over the soup and then top with the apples and celery leaves.
Ignore any red discoloration – the sunchoke is fine.
So this is embarrassing. Feel free to make fun of us. But the two soups are different enough that we decided it’s worth posting this one. Since sunchokes are inherently sweet the soup needed much less cider–I reduced it by three-quarters, but it would also be delicious without any cider at all. The other change I made was to cut the butter in half.
The proportions in this recipe are well balanced so don’t be afraid to use it as a soup template. Try substituting leeks for onions, for example; or squash instead of celery root and sunchokes. You could add wine instead of cider, olive oil instead of butter, vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, thyme instead of tarragon, ginger instead of or in addition to garlic. You get the picture.
Gallery. Click on something–you know you want to:
They’re both great! (And yes, you are allowed, cook’s prerogative, to post two versions.) After yesterday, soup season is officially here. I’ll put this on my soup of the week list–it would be a great starter for Thanksgiving, or even better, to eat with turkey sandwiches.
Thank you, Sally. I prefer this one (less sweet). Ken
Fabulous photos and great instructions, thank you. The soup ‘reads’ very appetising indeed, can’t wait to try it. (P.S. In Italy too, Jerusalem artichokes are called ‘topinanbour’, I wonder why …).
Funny you should ask. A friend living in France is staying with us and we had a discussion about its etymology. Turns out that several members of an aboriginal Brazilian tribe, were brought to France in 1605 as “curiosités.” Their names appear in several forms, but all resemble “Topinambour,” which supposedly inspired Linnaeus to name one of their foodstuffs–the Jerusalem artichoke, then new to Europe–after them. Ken
You could also have said you posted the newer version for all of us who have regarded the celery roots when shopping and wondered ‘What did I do with that before?’ and kept walking by. Have a Happy Thanksgiving folks.
You too. Where did Puglia go? Ken
Hi, I’m happy to discover your delicious blog and this marvelous soup! I love sunchokes and I can’t wait to try it. We’re waking up to frosty mornings now and I have soup on my mind everyday! Thank you for sharing.
Welcome! Glad you found us. We got a couple of inches of snow two days ago, so I guess we’re officially in the middle of soup season here as well. I love cooking with (and photographing) vegetables whose initial appearance can be a bit intimidating–celery root and sunchokes fit the bill. Enjoy the soup. Ken
I remember reading last year’s post with its Arcimboldo reference and thinking to myself ‘this is no ordinary food blog’. I’ve been following ever since :-)
Ah, Laura, you’re soooo nice. Thanks for hanging in there. Ken
Thank you! Ken
I love celery root, but have to admit to never cooking sun chokes before, perhaps because they are a rarity at my regular markets. Don’t worry about recipe replication, I’ve done at least 3-4 different brownies on Oui, Chef….you’ve got some catching up to do.
Ha-ha! I like Keith’s comment above, to the effect that we’re SUPPOSED to repeat recipes, so that when people walk through a supermarket and see gnarly vegetables they’re reminded what to do with them. Ken
That is so funny about the recipe. We did the same thing recently! Both the original and the variation sound great. And that is the loveliest celeriac I’ve ever seen!
Thanks. I’ve heard from several other bloggers recently–Oh, yeah, I did that. You jut keep rolling along… Ken
My grandparents, German Jews, hid in Provence during World War 2. To this day, my Uncle Marcel refuses to eat sweet potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips because he feels he had a life time’s allotment by the time he turned 11. He’s never mentioned the Jerusalem artichoke nor the celeriac, although he tends to stay away from root vegetables as a general rule because of his childhood. I happen to love all root vegetables, although I’ve actually never cooked with Jerusalem artichokes. (We eat tons of regular artichokes because of all the time in Provence, though. Can’t get enough of those.)
Hi, Molly–What a great story! Isn’t it remarkable what paradoxical places these things hold in our minds. For some of us, root vegetables are an expression of health, of treating yourself well; for others, they represent privation, exile and diminishment. It’s funny, how often when travelling in Europe, if you speak the language or have the opportunity to meet someone on something other than cursory terms, eventually you hear a story that runs, “When X was happening we could only eat Y,” or the converse, “After years of eating only X, the taste of L and M, made me weep for all that had been lost.” And yet a third, heart-breaking variant, is the consolation that food from another time provides in the impoverished present. I’m thinking in particular of the remarkable 1996 book, IN MEMORY’S KITCHEN: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin, a handwritten ms. about women in the the Theresienstadt concentration camp sharing recipes and memories of meals past. Thank you for sharing your family’s story. Ken
Thanks for turning me on to sunchokes. I hate to admit it but when I’ve seen them in the store I’ve never really know what to do with them so this was a learning experience.
That’s the way I feel about taro root. Anyway, the easiest thing to do with Jerusalem artichokes is to peel them and then just eat them raw in salads. They’re tasty, they’ve got a great crunch (always nice for a little textural variation)–and they’re great with apples. Ken