Friday, January 28, 2011

Celeriac and Lentil Soup

As I mentioned in my previous entry, it’s a bit snowy in New England. The greater Boston area is suffering from mound upon mound of snow piled anywhere there's space. With snow in the prediction for tonight and a bit next week, it seems the snow is here to stay.

There’s less snow up in Vermont, but I assure you, it’s pretty darn cold. Most mornings are below zero, and it's considered a warm day when the temperature rises to double digits. This makes going outside a major production. In addition to a winter jacket, you need multiple sweaters, spandex pants under regular pants, knee socks, boots, neck warmers, scarfs, hats, glove liners, gloves, hand warmers, toe warmers, personal space heaters....

Sometimes it's easier to stay inside.

But when you absolutely must exit your home to brave the elements and waddle in all your layers through blinding snow, it's nice to have a warm bowl of soup waiting upon your return.

How about some nice hot celeriac and lentil soup?

You're probably thinking, ewww, lentils. But I assure you this is not your typical puke green, lumpy lentil soup. This lentil soup benefits form the addition of celeriac, or celery root. The celeriac lightens up the soup and imparts a fresh flavor to the lentils, lifting them from their mushy reputation.

This was the first time I cooked with celeriac. It’s certainly one ugly vegetable.

A trick to working with celeriac is use a sharp knife to peel through its tough skin. I spent a good fifteen minutes attacking it at different angles with my vegetable peeler, and the only surface that felt the sharp blade of the peeler was my fingers. A sharp knife gets right through the skin, so toss your wimpy peeler aside.

The soup is great with crème fraiche and fresh chive on top. If you need some meat with your soup, sprinkle some smoky bacon on top or serve with a maple apple sausage. Yum!

Celeriac and Lentil Soup.

Recipe adapted from The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook by Mireille Guiliano

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 small celeriac
1 ¼ cups dried green lentils
6 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
red wine vinegar to taste
fresh chives (optional garnish)
crème fraiche (optional garnish)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Meanwhile peel and slice the onion into thin rounds, then cut the rounds into quarters. Add the onion to the pot and cook until softened, roughly 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile peel and chop the celeriac into roughly 1 inch cubes. Add the celeriac, split peas and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for roughly 25 minutes until the lentils and celeriac are tender.

3. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the pot and add salt, pepper and a drizzle of red wine vinegar to taste. (I usually start with about 2 teaspoons of vinegar then add more if needed)

4. Serve hot with a spoonful of crème fraiche and sprinkling of chopped fresh chive.

Stay Warm!

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