Homemade Cream of Celery Soup

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup

Every year we try to grow two or three new vegetables in our garden.  Here, on PEI, we have a very short growing season and so, whatever we grow, must be suitable to that climate. One day, in late June, I was at John’s Greenhouses in Summerside and they had trays of very healthy looking celery starter plants.  On a lark, I bought a tray of six plants and transplanted them.  Never, in my wildest imagination, could I have contemplated how well they would grow!  With leaves on stalks intact, they grew to be 30″ tall.  The celery had a nice crisp bite to it but, seriously, how much celery could we eat raw?

Celery
Celery
Celery
Celery
Celery
Celery

I began thinking about what I could do with the celery and how I could process it into something else. Thus was born my recipe for Cream of Celery Soup which has now elevated itself to one of my favorite cream-based soups.

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup

I have made and tested this recipe several times (well, you know, we did have a lot of celery in the garden!), adjusting the ingredient amounts and perfecting the method.  This process results in me publishing a recipe for a tasty soup I am delighted with.  It also enables me to share my lessons learned and tips for successfully making this soup.

Ingredients

Use the freshest celery you can find for this recipe.  Chop it finely because celery takes a long time to soften during cooking – the smaller the pieces, the faster it will cook.   I use both onions and leeks in this recipe as they each contribute their own unique flavor to the soup.  They may come from the same family but their unique flavour qualities add levels of complexity and depth to the celery soup.  Always use freshly minced garlic in this recipe – it will have more flavour than a bottled version.  Either chicken or vegetable stock may be used as a base in this soup. I typically use chicken stock.

To get that silky smooth texture for which great cream soups are known, use a combination of whole milk and cream (18% MF). Fat-reduced and skim milks do not do well in this soup. This soup can be made entirely with whole milk but using cream for a portion of the dairy content in the soup will yield a richer and smoother soup. Also, this soup will freeze well if whole milk and cream are used. In fact, I make this soup as part of my batch-cooking menu and freeze it in individual portions. It’s great for work lunches.

I add shredded cheddar cheese to this soup.  Celery and cheese have long been great partners so why not pair them in a soup.  I also add a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese to the soup as well.

I love my herb garden and make good use of it.  It’s important to choose herbs for this soup that will pair well with the other ingredients.  I have chosen dill, parsley, and either rosemary or thyme.  Only add these to the late stage reheating of the soup, after it has been puréed, and the milk and cream added.  Softer stemmed herbs such as dill and parsley tend to wilt and become discolored if they are overcooked.  While the more woody rosemary or thyme can withstand a bit more heat, I tend to add them all at the same time, near the end of the cooking process.  The amount of seasoning is always a personal preference. My strategy in herb usage is that they should enhance, not overpower, the dish.  I recommend using the amounts I have indicated in the recipe the first time you make the soup – the herb quantities indicated are considered modest amounts. Then, the next time you make the soup, adjust the quantities of the herbs according to your personal preference.

Method

Celery takes a long time to soften during cooking.  Melt the butter in the saucepan and give the celery the benefit of a head start of about 5 minutes cooking before adding the onions, leeks, potato, and garlic. Cook the vegetables until they are softened – about 15 minutes.  Then, add the thickener (regular or gluten-free flour) followed by the liquid stock (chicken or vegetable) and continue to cook the mixture for 30-35 minutes. The goal is to ensure the vegetables are thoroughly cooked and softened and that time has been allotted for the flavors to blend.

The mixture needs to be puréed until smooth, either in a blender or food processor or, alternatively, via an immersion blender.  I typically use the blender for this and I let the soup cool for about 30-40 minutes or so before putting the hot mixture into the jar of the blender.  I have learned the importance of blending part of the mixture first and then adding the remainder of the mixture while continuing to purée it as, otherwise, it is very difficult to get a  smooth soup.  Because celery has a “stringy” component to it and because, sometimes, no matter how much blending, there can always be little bits of the vegetables that have not puréed completely smooth,  I recommend straining the puréed mixture through a medium mesh wire sieve into a clean stockpot to get rid of any unpuréed residue.  This will result in a smoother textured soup.

Once the puréed mixture is transferred to a clean stock pot and the milk/cream blended in and heated, the cheeses and fresh herbs can be added.

Never boil a cream soup; instead, gently heat it just until the cheeses have melted.

Serving

This soup should be served hot.  It can be garnished with croutons, slivered almonds, croutons, fresh herbs, or a sprig of celery leaves.  Serve it in small quantities as a starter to a meal or in larger bowls as a tasty lunch or light supper. The soup is great served with homemade biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Making this cream-based soup is a great way to make use of fresh celery.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup

Homemade Cream of Celery Soup

Ingredients:

¼ cup + 1 tbsp butter
8 oz celery, chopped fine (apx 2 cups)
2½ oz leek (white and green parts only), sliced thin (apx. 1 cup)
2 oz onion, finely chopped (apx. ½ cup)
4 oz potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour (to make it gluten-free, use 1/3 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)

2 cups warm chicken stock
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup 18% cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
¾ tsp fresh dill, minced
1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
¼ tsp thyme or rosemary, finely chopped

Celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds for garnish (optional)
Sprinkle of nutmeg for garnish (optional)

Method:

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add the celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to just below medium and add the leek, onion, potato, and garlic.  Cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Sprinkle flour onto vegetables and stir for approximately 1 minute.  Add chicken stock.  Cover. Bring to a boil.  Add the bay leaf. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Cool for 30-40 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Transfer mixture to blender or food processor, starting with a good half of the mixture, puréeing, and then adding in the remainder and continuing to purée until smooth.  Strain puréed mixture through medium mesh wire sieve, into clean stock pot, to remove any bits of ingredients that have not completely puréed.

Add milk, cream, salt, and pepper to the mixture.  Heat over medium heat.  Do not boil.  Add the grated cheddar and parmesan cheeses along with the fresh herbs.  Stir until cheese melts. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a sprig of celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Yield:  5 cups, approximately 4-5 servings (1 to 1¼ cup/serving)

Delicious Cream of Celery Soup with layers of flavor. Perfect as a starter or for a light lunch or supper.

Homemade Cream of Celery Soup

Yield: 5 cups

Serving Size: 1 - 1 1/4 cups

Delicious homemade Cream of Celery Soup with layers of flavor. Perfect as a starter to a meal or for a light lunch or supper.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz celery, chopped fine (apx 2 cups)
  • 2½ oz leek (white and green parts only), sliced thin (apx. 1 cup)
  • 2 oz onion, finely chopped (apx. ½ cup)
  • 4 oz potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour (to make it gluten-free, use 1/3 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • 2 cups warm chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup 18% cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ tsp fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp thyme or rosemary, finely chopped
  • Celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds for garnish (optional)
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to just below medium and add the leek, onion, potato, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Sprinkle flour onto vegetables and stir for approximately 1 minute. Add chicken stock. Cover. Bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Cool for 30-40 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor, starting with a good half of the mixture, puréeing, and then adding in the remainder and continuing to purée until smooth. Strain puréed mixture through medium mesh wire sieve, into clean stock pot, to remove any bits of ingredients that have not completely puréed.
  3. Add milk, cream, salt, and pepper to the mixture. Heat over medium heat. Do not boil. Add the grated cheddar and parmesan cheeses along with the fresh herbs. Stir until cheese melts. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a sprig of celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
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Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup
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