Cream of Celery Root Soup


It’s cold, and Italy’s hearty soups are on tables everywhere now. But Italy’s culinary tradition boasts a wealth of soups that run the gamut from the rustic tradition of cucina povera to the refined alta cucina. This soup is a light, delicately flavored creamy classic, a pitch perfect overture to a sumptuous standing rib roast or a succulent baked ham.


Celery Root


Like leeks, the humble celery root has been known to man for millennia. The ancient Greeks called it selinon, and Hermes came upon it as he approached Calypso’s cave. By the 17th century it was cultivated across Europe. In fact, you’ve probably walked right by this relative of the carrot, parsnip, and parsley a thousand times in the market. Celery root, or celeriac as it is also known, can vary from the size of a baseball up to a softball. Cloaked in a gnarled, hairy brown overcoat, and sporting a top knot of long, deep green leaves, this is the ugly duckling of winter root vegetables. Peel away that warty outer covering though, and you’ll expose ivory flesh with a fragrance reminiscent of celery and parsley. Cook it up into a soup, and taste the essence of celery.


Celery Root


Where Italy’s iconic soups – Istria’s Jota, Farrara’s Sguazabarbuz, and Tuscany’s Ribollita – are thick, chunky, and multi-layered in flavor, this delicately flavored soup is an elegant melding of root vegetables simmered together in brodo di pollo (chicken broth) and puréed into a vellutata, Italy’s version of cream soup. Smooth and luxurious, this genre of soup owes its body and velvety texture to starchy russet potatoes and a final enrichment of cream. If you are looking for an elegant beginning to a winter feast, this is it.


Cream of Celery Root Soup

Vellutata di Sedano Rapa
Cream of Celery Root Soup

serves 4 to 6

When selecting celery root, choose specimens that are firm, unblemished, and heavy for their size with a greenish tint. Spend a bit of time picking up the vegetables and comparing their weight, and you will be rewarded with superior flavor.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white part only, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 parsnip, peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ¼-inch inch dice
3 medium celery roots, peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
7-8 cups brodo di pollo – click for recipe
¼ cup heavy cream
fine sea salt
freshly ground white pepper
minced prezzemolo (Italian parsley) or snipped chives, to garnish

Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel the celery root. To prevent discoloration, drop the diced celery root into a bowl of acidulated water (water into which a lemon has been squeezed.)

Melt the butter in a heavy bottom 6-quart saucepan over low heat. Enameled pans such as Le Creuset or Staub are perfect for this. Add the prepared leeks and parsnip, along with a pinch of fine sea salt, tossing to coat the vegetables with butter. Cover the saucepan, and sweat the vegetables over a low flame until the leeks are quite soft and somewhat translucent, stirring frequently. Do not allow the leeks to brown or they will take on a decidedly unpleasant bitter flavor.

Add the diced potatoes, celery root, and 7 cups of brodo di pollo to the saucepan. Stir well. Increase the flame, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a very gentle simmer. Cover and cook, maintaining a gentle simmer, for about 50-60 minutes, until the vegetables are well softened.

Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Purée the soup with an immersion blender, leaving a bit of texture, if desired.

The soup may also be puréed using a food processor. Fit the workbowl with the metal blade and remove the pusher from the feed tube, setting the pusher aside. Removing the pusher when puréeing a hot liquid will prevent a buildup of steam in the workbowl which could force the top of the food processor off creating both a hazard and a mess. Purée the vegetables in batches, adding about ¼ cup of cooking liquid to each batch to facilitate puréeing.

The soup may be frozen at this point for up to 3 weeks.


Cream of Celery Root Soup


To serve, return the mixture to the saucepan and warm it. Add ¼ cup of heavy cream, and combine well, being careful to keep the soup off the boil to prevent the cream from curdling. Add ½ teaspoon each of fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. If desired, add the final cup of brodo, ¼ cup at a time to slightly thin the soup. Taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed. Serve in warmed bowls, and top with minced prezzemolo or snipped chives.

Cook’s Note:
About leeks: select long, firm white leeks with the beard at the white end still attached. To clean leeks, slice off the dark green tops and the little beard, and discard. Cut through the leek lengthwise, leaving the very bottom layer intact. Hold the leek under running water, separating the layers to allow the water to run between the layers, making sure all the grit and sand are washed away. Place the cleaned leeks cut side down on kitchen towels to drain.

For another take on Celery Root Soup, visit Chiara Giglio at her site, La Voglia Matta.

Adapted from Carolyn Thacker.


Cream of Celery Root Soup


Note: You can click on any picture to see a slide show!

I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.

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CoffeeDog Box


We have a winner!

The winner is Doris Hollander (aka Ping Pong Queen) of Los Angeles, CA

Congratulazioni, Doris, your CoffeeDog Kit from Bulldog Brewery LA is on its way!

The contest is now closed.


Off the shelf is so yesterday. Today it is all about boutique booze. Craft spirits. Artisanal liquor. Now, with CoffeeDog – the Coffee and Vanilla Liqueur Kit from Bulldog Brewery LA, you can make your own craft spirits at home. I’m giving away one CoffeeDog Kit this week. So someone’s going to get lucky. If you love rich coffee liqueur, then this is for you. Read more… »

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Cappelletti and What Time Is Midnight Mass?

Posted December 20, 2015 By Adri

A Vino Aperitivo for the Season


Midnight Mass


It’s early on Christmas Eve when the phone rings in the parish office, and the caller asks “What time is Midnight Mass?” Honest. Every year at parishes around the world inquiring minds want to know. A friend who was a parish administrator herself said that she fielded dozens of such calls every Christmas. We all chuckled at the goofy question. And every Christmas Eve morning I called my friend at work, put on my silliest, most heavily accented voice and asked the very same question. I could hear the hesitation in her voice while she figured it out, and then she replied “And Merry Christmas to you too, Miss Adri.” It was our very own Christmas greeting.

But Christmas Eve Midnight mass presents its own logistical problems. What do you serve before Mass? We’ve eaten a big feast just hours before, but by the time 10 PM rolls around, as the rest of the relatives arrive for a visit and the drive to the family parish, everyone is ready for “a little something” to tide us over. Somehow when I think of Mass, and what to drink, I think of Italian vermouth – served straight up in a pretty etched glass. But it is Christmas, and that should have you seeing and serving red, the festive kind, crimson with citrus and herbal notes. I know. You think I am talking about Campari, or perhaps Aperol. Nope. Allow me to introduce you to Cappelletti. It’s not the Bridge convention, nor is it Modena’s famous pasta, the “little hats” bathed in capon broth so popular at this time of year. Read more… »

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Copulettas - Half-moon pastries from Sardinia


Greetings to all. It’s been months since you have heard from me. Life and my home remodel have conspired to keep me out of the kitchen and away from my computer. This post, however is not about me. It is about Gina DePalma. Gina, for those of you unfamiliar with her, is one of the stars of the Italian pastry world. She was the pastry chef at Babbo and Enoteca restaurants in New York for many years, and she is the author of numerous articles and Dolce Italiano, one of my favorite collections of Italian desserts. Read more… »

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The White Widow – a Punch Abruzzo cocktail

Posted February 16, 2015 By Adri

It seems to me that this coming summer everyone will be in Abruzzo.


White Widow-a Punch Abruzzo cocktail


Some friends are traveling to visit their ancestral villages and towns. Others, like food writer Domenica Marchetti, are leading culinary tours – taking hungry travelers through this pastoral land, sampling local cuisine and visiting artisanal food makers along the way. Travel to this largely undiscovered region is picking up, and that can only be a good thing. The cuisine, rich and borne of the land, is at once hearty and delicate, nuanced and bold. Cheeses, wines, olive oils and truly divine pastries – Abruzzo has it all. Some of Italy’s finest dried pasta comes from there too. And so does one of my favorite liquors, Punch Abruzzo. Read more… »

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Coppette alla Crema di Ricotta

Posted December 27, 2014 By Adri


Coppette alla Crema di Ricotta
Got Panettone? If you have Italian friends, then I bet your answer is a resounding yes because some of those friends must have given you some panettone as a Christmas gift. As good as it is right out of its pretty box, or toasted with a bit of butter at breakfast time, at my house there are always entire loaves that remain unopened once Christmas is over. Read more… »

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