As Paris suffers through this winter’s fifty shades of grey (and wet, and cold), I find myself seeking comfort in small things. A warm smile, a good book, a purring puss on my lap, and — why not? — a bowl of soup to chase the blues away. This soup of puréed céleri-rave — aka celeriac or celery root — is one of my winter favorites. Its rich, earthy flavor makes it a satisfyingly full-bodied way to give yourself a boost at lunchtime.
Soupe au céleri-rave / Celeriac soup
Why celeriac is so rarely found on menus outside of France is a mystery. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, has an amazingly long shelf-life and has been cultivated around the Mediterranean since Egyptian times. It’s a versatile vegetable that can be grated into salads, served as a thick purée, roasted as a creative side dish or braised. So, come on, world — this vegetable deserves to be (re)discovered!
Other forgotten veggies that the French continue to serve, or are reviving, include salsifis (salsify), topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes) and crosnes (Chinese artichokes). This week I’ve had a lot of visitors from out of town and have been going out a lot. The other evening, at a neighborhood bistro, I was served turbot on a bed of salsify that was ever so delicious. Yet even here salsify is rarely served, and I have never seen it outside of France.
The only explanation I can find for why these veggies have fallen from fashion is the difficulty of their preparation. They need to be peeled, and as they are bulbous and irregular this can be a time-consuming process. But don’t let that discourage you. Once they are peeled, they are very easy to handle. And the results are well worth the effort.