Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Cream of celery and leek

For those of you who have read my previous post, you know that I had a little tantrum on the food bloging scene and so on. Despite the not soo good start, I still like to write about food and I decided it would be a waste and that I would regret if I just stopped. Anyway, I can't just stop because it's a bit hard, right ? I gotta persever, and learn from my mistakes.

Other news which will make possible more blogging, is that I just got myself a new camera. It broke my budget, but I'll just stop telling myself each time I cook something that it's a shame I can't photograph and share it here.

So, today's post is gonna be about perseverance (and soup !).

There are times when you wonder, how you even managed to get where you are, compared to your initial objective. Well, this soup was one of these moments.

Everything started when I found on the Fine Cooking's website a soup that looked light and refreshing, which I bookmarked to try later. It was also pretty interresting in iteself: I didn't think I had ever tasted a soup with celery as a main ingredient.

A few weeks later, I settled on trying the soup; so off I was to the grocery store to complete the ingredient list. With everything in hands, I started cutting, chopping, dicing, for the mise en place. I followed the instructions religiously, and remember thinking, that the recipe was calling for an awful lot of water, for a soup with celery as main ingredient... y'know, celery only has that much flavor, and it's also mostly made of water... but the reviews of this soup on the website were so good, that I was wondering how I could make this simple soup go wrong.

At the end of the prescribed cooking time, however, I panicked: the soup was tasteless... pretty much flavorless... and it was VERY thin.... almost no substance. I stopped wondering about how the soup went wrong and tried to figure out a way to save it. I checked the pantry and dumped dehydrated chicken broth, dried mustard (dried mustard is a favorite spice of mine, you'll never know it's in most dishes and it helps improving other ingredients flavors, yum !), some basil, parsley, garlic... about everything I quickly had on hand. I also let the soup reduce a bit, to increase the thickness.

Then, the ultimate test: I served it to Guyuk. When he tasted it, he declared it a winner. He even told me on the following day that it was so good that he could eat it right out from the fridge, cold. Hah ! In your face, soup !

The second time I did this soup, it had only 3 ingredients left in common with the original recipe, which is why I'm going to call it my own soup. When doing this second batch, I also realized that the reason why the soup was so thin and tasteless, is because it was using celery root, instead of just celery. When I translated the ingredients in french, I wasn't so sure why the editor mentionned it was a root. I thought maybe it indicated that there was need of a full celery. Just to make sure, I used a translator, and celery root gave me "celery", so off I went to get the wrong ingredient...

For those which would like to get the original recipe, please click on the link to Fine Cooking.
I'll only post my version here.

Leek and celery soup
by Kirsa

3 Tbs. unsalted butter
Olive oil (to prevent the butter from browning)
2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), trimmed, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into thin half-moon slices, rinsed thoroughly, and drained (Freeze the dark green parts, it's excellent for a broth)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 medium yellow onion, roughly diced
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 celery
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
Ground mustard, basil, parsley (and any other spice you love !)
Parmesan flakes
Coffee cream (10%)

How to
In a 4-quart or larger heavy-based pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, onion, and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and lightly golden but not brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to low if you see signs of browning.

Meanwhile, medium dice the celery. You should have about 5 cups.
Add the celery, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water to the leeks. Cover and cook until the celery is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Check occasionally; if all the water cooks off and the vegetables start to brown, add another 1/2 cup water.) Add 2-1/2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water, bring to a simmer, and continue to cook another 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Purée the soup (with a hand blender, or in small batches in a stand blender) to a very smooth, creamy consistency. Let cool completely and then store in the refrigerator at least overnight or for up to two days.

Reheat the soup. Add a bit of cream, to your taste. Taste and add more salt as needed. Ladle the soup into small espresso cups or shot glasses. Top each portion with a small line of cream (don't mix it so it does a nice pattern). Finish each cup with a pinch of black pepper and a few parmesan flakes.

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