Thursday, April 29, 2010

Celery Root and Caramelized Pear Soup

Who would think a vegetable as ugly as celery root could be transformed into something as beautiful as this bowl of soup? The first time I tasted celery root or celeriac was in Paris many years ago. The dish was celeri remalade, basically matchsticks of celery root tossed with flavored mayonnaise. I found celeriac's flavor combination of celery and parsley really tasty . The other night I was enjoying the soup with friends and I learned that my star vegetable, celeriac was actually mentioned in Homer's Odyssey, now I know Ive convinced you to get passed its rough exterior.

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of sliced onion
  • 1/4 cup of sliced celery
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced leek, white part only, reserve green section for bouquet garni
  • 2 garlic cloves finely diced
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped celery root(from about 3 small peeled celery roots)
  • 1 small peeled, chopped potato
  • 3 bosc pears, peeled cored and cut into medium dice . about 1 cup, don't throw out skins
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves, 5 sprigs parsley and 2 springs thyme wrapped with a strip of the leek top and tied with kitchen string
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot. Add the celery, onions and leeks, saute about 7 minutes till softened. Add the garlic. Add the celery root, potato, pear skins, chicken stock and bouquet garni. Bring the liquid to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, stir, reduce heat and cover. Cook at a simmer till all the vegetables are tender, this took about 35 minutes. Now let the soup cool down a bit . Place the soup in a blender or food processor. (Put about a 1/3 of the soup in the processor at a time...working slowly). It was a bit too thick, so I added another cup of chicken broth.Season with salt and pepper and cover. Now on to the caramelized pear topping. In a saute pan warm honey. Wait for honey to bubble and turn brown, this took about 4 minutes. Now toss in the rosemary sprig and diced pears. I added a pinch of sugar as my pears were not quite ripe. Toss the pears around until they are soft and glazed. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.When serving place about 1 cup of soup in a bowl, a spoonful of the pear goes right in the center. Drizzle the pears lightly with the balsamic sauce from the bottom of the saute pan. Serve

Note:This is an Alfred Portale recipe. I have tweaked it a bit. He suggests straining the soup through a fine mesh strainer, sorry I'm too lazy for that step. He also recommends adding 2 tablespoons of butter after the soup has been pureed for added richness. Sorry I'm too fat for that step. I thought the soup was delicious without the added butter. If you add the butter, let me know if it made a big difference.


  1. Oh girl I chuckled at the end!

    I love this soup, you have YET again gotten me to try another one of your fabulous posts!

    poetry is in this you've said "match sticks of celery root tossed with flavored mayonnaise..."

  2. That is a beautiful bowl of soup! I bet the pears and celery root were a beautiful flavor combo!

  3. I love to make this soon. With all the rain that we have been having, it makes you want to grab a bowl. By the way, I found my first morel mushroom in the wild. -Tien

  4. Celeriac and pear! Beautiful combination!

  5. wow great soup i need to get some of these yum

  6. I adore celeriac and only discovered it a few years ago. This is truly the Ugly Duckling - transformed into this beautiful flavorful soup.
    P.S. don't do a lot straining ither!

  7. I can easily see how this vegetable can turn into such a beautiful dish.The pears really bring this soup alive.

    I love celeriac. I have it growing in my herb patch. I have been using it in mostly salads these days.
    Flavored mayonnaise too? Deliicous.

  8. I love celery root anything, and what a good idea to pair it with...pears!

  9. This looks like a great soup. I have a real fondness for celeriac and this is a great way to use it. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  10. Oh, what interesting flavors...AWESOME! It's like something out of a 5-star fine dining restaurant!