Celeriac soup

Eating seasonally, and especially shopping at my favourite farmers’ market, has opened up to me new horizons when it comes to varieties of fruit and veg available here in Britain. It would have been so easy sticking to my favourites. And oh so dull! I would have never fallen in love with kale, or got into the whole pumpkin thing. But I ventured out of my vegetable comfort zone and decided to challenge my tastes and explore the seasons. This is how I faced this delicious monster – the celeriac, or celery root (which is basically what it is). I don’t have a picture, but take a look here, or here and you’ll see what I mean. It certainly wouldn’t win the vegetable beauty contest, to put it charitably. Some say ‘ugly duckling of the vegetable world’, but it’s more of a Quasimodo of the vegetable world, if you ask me. Nevertheless, this hideous exterior hides delicately flavoured and silky interior very similar to fennel in flavour, but slightly nuttier. It can be eaten raw, roasted, mashed or turned into a soup. Its crunchy silky flesh is excellent in salads, for example. I even sautéed it with garlic and olive oil, and had it with pasta, sprinkled with some parmesan. Delicious, I tell you! But still, my favourite way so far is a celeriac soup. That’s actually how I had it one of the first times I tried it. It was in a lovely delicate soup that I’ve since wanted to recreate at home. And I did. Tonight. So here’s the recipe, and my entry for Eating with the Seasons: February.

 

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 Celeriac Soup

 

 SOURCE:  inspired by a dish I had at a restaurant

PREPARATION TIME: about 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: about 20 min

CUISINE: British?

SERVES: 3 – 4

 

 INGREDIENTS:

1 celeriac, peeled and chopped, weighing about 1 kg

chicken stock, enough to cover the celeriac

1 bay leaf

1 bouquet garni (or a few sprigs of thyme)

1 tsp olive oil

one tsp butter

a handful of almonds and hazelnuts

2 leeks, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

150 ml of crème fraiche, or to taste

1/2 tsp chili powder, optional

a handful of grated parmesan

a pinch of nutmeg, optional

 

METHOD:

I. First, bring the celeriac to boil with the stock and the herbs. Cook until soft.

II. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a pan, and add the nuts, garlic and leek. Sauté until the leeks are soft, and the nuts are starting to brown a bit. Remove from the heat when done.

III. Puree the celeriac and the leek mixture until silky and smooth. Add the chili powder and nutmeg, if using, and the crème fraiche. I’d start by adding a few tablespoons at a time and then tasting it to see what it’s like. Stop when you think it’s enough. I like it mildly sour from the crème fraiche, but still with the strong celeriac flavour.  Just before serving, mix in some grated parmesan and stir. Put a bit more on top, for a good measure, and enjoy with some lovely bread.

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Other soup recipes at Maninas:

Creamy carrot soup with rose harissa

Dalmatian fish soup

Fragrant and aromatic salmon soup with noodles

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Digg This

For the winter blues: Sri Lankan coconut dhal

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Hello! How are you, how’s the world at your end? Here in the UK, we’re cocooned in layers of snow of varying thickness, depending on where you are. When I was coming home tonight, around 6.30 pm, I felt this thick layer of snow under my feet is starting to freeze. I wonder what we’ll wake up to tomorrow. As idyllic as it all looks, us Mediterranean types are not faring to well in these conditions. All I want to do is hibernate until the sun shines back on us again. But though I refuse to believe it, the life goes on. There are jobs to do, people to see, dinners to cook… Yes… Dinners… Here’s what kept me awake and re-energised me this evening. Remember that delicious Sri Lankan dhal I was telling you about earlier? Here’s the recipe. Without the photos for now, until my camera awakes from its winter sleep. (I meant to take photos this evening, but my camera failed me.)

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This dhal is a serious contender for the title of my favourite dhal, so far held by the seductive Bengali Red Dal. It has a rich gutsy flavour of red lentils cooked with onion, garlic, chillies, and cumin and black pepper, imbued with the heady aroma of curry leaves, and with a squeeze of lime to heighten your senses. I normally prefer to eat my dhal on the same day I make it, but this one I find improves with time. That is if you can stay away from it and leave some for tomorrow. I’m proud to day that this time I managed to do just that. Not even I can eat this much dhal at one sitting!

Let not the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This dhal is really very easy to make, and you can leave it to look after itself while you’re doing something else. Like making Sri Lankan coconut rotis, for example. Yes, that’s a good thing to do. (Recipe coming soon.) 

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Sri Lankan coconut dhal

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: under 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 45 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of red lentils

1/4 red (medium to large) onions, or 2 shallots

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

3 green chillies, roughly chopped

a handful of fresh curry leaves, shredded

1/3 tsp turmeric

2/3 tsp roughly ground cumin and black pepper mixture

1 scant tsp of fenugreek seeds

1/5 – 1/4 can of coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste

3 – 4 dried red chillies

salt to taste

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1 tbsp tempering spices (mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

1 1/2 tbsp fried onions (or 3 – 4 shallots, shredded and then fried as below)

 

METHOD:

Place the lentils in about 2 – 3 cups of water. Then chop the chillies, onions, garlic, shred the curry leaves and add them to the lentils, together with turmeric, fenugreek and the cumin and black pepper mixture. Boil together until the lentils turn soft.

When the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and stir through.

Before you’re ready to eat, prepare the tadka or tempering for the dhal. I usually don’t have fried onions at hand, so this is what I do. I heat the oil and then add the chillies and the curry leaves to it. when the curry leaves are starting to turn crisp, I pop in the onions/shallots, and cook them until they’re almost copper brown. Then add a few more curry leaves (if you want, which I invariably do), and the tempering spices. Stir for 10 s or until they release their fragrance. Now pop the contents of the pan into the lentil mixture, reserving perhaps some for the garnish. Stir, put the lid back on, and leave it for a minute or two for the flavours to mingle and make friends.

Don’t forget the lime. I sometimes add it before adding the tadka to the lentils, and sometimes after the tadka. Either way, don’t leave it out. It really does make all the difference.

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More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Sri Lankan recipes

 

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We’re at the 8th helping of My Legume Love Affair hosted and organised by the talented Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This is my entry for the event.  

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Dalmatian fish soup OR Dalmatinska riblja juha (i riba leso)

Coast near Pag bridge, Dalmatia

We are a family of fish lovers. – No, we are a REGION of fish lovers! But who could blame us, with the sea like this? :D And yes, it is precisely the sea that miss most now that I live away from home, other than family and friends, of course. I miss long relaxing walks by the sea, its ever-changing beauty, and its amazing bounty. My family love fish; in fact, I don’t know a sea creature we don’t love, except for the fact that I’m not too keen on squid if it’s not in risotto, or brudet (a type of fish stew eaten with polenta), but that’s another story.  

Dalmatian fish soup

Right now I’m craving for a simple, comforting fish soup, the way we prepare it in Dalmatia. Here are some photos and the recipe. This is another one of those posts prepared during the summer, that didn’t make it into the blog earlier.

Enjoy!

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Dalmatian fish soup   OR    Dalmatinska riblja juha (i riba leso)

 

SOURCE: My Grandma and Mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: 6

 

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 kg fish (we used mol, which is hake in English – Thanks, Tea!)

a little olive oil

salt

a few cloves of garlic, chopped

a bit of celery leaf

water as necessary

chopped parsley

1 large or 2 medium carrots, grated  (optional)

garlic

a few handfuls of rice

METHOD:

1. Cut the fish into portions, if you are using big fish. Add olive oil, salt, garlic, celery leaf and add enough water to cover the fish. Don’t add too much water, because it will weaken the flavour. Cover and boil until the fish is cooked. The fish is cooked when the meat becomes soft and white.

2. When the fish is cooked, take it out of the pot and reserve the stock. Leave a little bit of the liquid with the fish.

3. Add fresh chopped parsley, more garlic, carrot (optional) and rice to the stock, and cook until the rice is soft.

Dalmatian fish soup

Serve the fish soup as the first course, and the boiled fish as the second course. A simple side dish of boiled potatoes goes well with the fish, or some salad. My mum puts extra chopped garlic and olive oil on the table for people to help themselves to eat with the fish. We eat it like this: we take a piece of fish and put some of its liquid over it; then add a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle it with fresh garlic and sometimes parsley. I looove dipping bread into this!

Riba leso

fish soup collage

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This recipe is a part of the event Teach a Man to Fish – the Sustainable Seafood Event. Go to Leather District Gourmet for a truly fantastic round-up, containing lots of useful advice and brilliant fish recipes!

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