Soupe de Céleri et Patates Douces au Gingembre
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 Indian summer 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 respective sides of the Atlantic: sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple in the US, 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 a roasted bird 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 great need of a helping hand this time of year.
* Weather update: Not an hour after writing this, we had our first snow of the year! Can you hear the bells jingling yet?
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 small head celeriac, about 1 kilogram (2.2 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
- 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
- A knob of fresh ginger, about 5 cm (2 inches), peeled and grated
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 litre (4 cups) stock, preferably homemade
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or cocotte.
- Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly, until fragrant.
- Add the celeriac, sweet potatoes, and ginger, season with salt and a generous amout of pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, until they start to get golden.
- Pour in the stock and top up with water as needed to just cover the vegetables. 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.
- Stir in the milk (and a bit more water if the mixture is too thick), purée the soup to the desired smoothness (I like it a bit chunky), and serve immediately, optionally topped with a fresh grind of pepper.