November 25, 2005
[Celeriac and Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger]
It has been very cold in Paris lately* -- which I guess should be expected in late November but still comes as something of a shock after the lovely été indien we've had -- and naturally my thoughts turn to, I'll let you guess: fondue savoyarde? Well, that's one, but it's not what I meant. Soup, then? Yes! Thick and hearty soup served piping hot, the kind you can fill a pretty bowl with, cup your hands around, and call it lunch.
For today's soup I used two kinds of root vegetables, which happen to be very much in the holiday spirit, on either side of the Atlantic: sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple in the US (if you celebrated it I hope your dinner went well -- we went to Haynes' and had a grand time) while celeriac, a.k.a. celery root or céleri-rave, is often featured on French Christmas menus, boiled and pureed with a little cream, and served with roast turkey or game. It's a nice change from mashed potatoes, I find its flavor more subtle and its texture lighter, tasting halfway between a vegetable and a starch.
I've also used ginger and garlic to flavor the soup, adding a gentle kick to the soup's natural sweetness, and a pleasant heat that lingers on the roof of your mouth after every spoonful. What's more, both are supposed to be excellent for your immune system, which is in dire need of a helping hand this time of year. But that doesn't dispense you from wearing that cool hand-knit scarf when you go out, fortunately.
* Weather update: Not an hour after writing this, we had our first snow of the year! Can you hear the bells jingling yet?
Soupe de Céleri et Patates Douces au Gingembre
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- One small head celeriac, about 2 pounds (choose a firm one that feels heavy for its size, and knock on it gently to make sure it doesn't sound hollow), peeled, quartered and sliced
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
- Salt, pepper
- a knob of ginger, about the size of my thumb (that's 2 inches), peeled, and grated or thinly minced
- 1/3 cup milk
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or cocotte. Add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly, until fragrant. Add in the vegetables, season with salt and a generous amout of pepper, and cook for ten minutes, until they start to get golden. Pour in hot water (or stock) to just cover the vegetables, add in the grated ginger, stir, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 35 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and very soft, stirring from time to time to make sure the vegetables don't stick to the bottom. Stir in the milk (and a bit more water if the mixture is too thick), puree the soup to the desired smoothness (I like it chunky), and serve immediately, optionally topped with a fresh grind of pepper.
Fresh Ginger Cake
Winter Vegetable Curry
Chinese Marinated Pork Ribs