Celeriac, Green Apple and Walnut Soup

There are a few simple things that I utterly embrace during this season of gray. Warming cups of tea in the dark evening light, long walks in the drizzling rain while sufficiently bundled, a mantle full of lit candles while the flames in the fireplace whip below, and soup.

Steaming bowls of soup with a thick cut slice of bread and a slather of butter spread on like frosting. I’m certain I could eat that meal for week on end without feeling one bit sad about it. In fact, this time of year that’s pretty much what I do.

While I tend to shy away from cleanses and goals about diets that I will dismiss after day two, this time of year I do long for a reprieve from the holiday fare. A bowl of soup is quite possibly one of my favorite ways to disguise comfort with health. Over the last several years I’ve taken great pride in my soup-making abilities in that I’m able to whip up a smooth and creamy bowl that tastes, well, like it’s loaded with cream. And this recipe that I’m sharing today is my proudest soup achievement. The walnuts are added directly to the pot along with the vegetables. The key to a hearty, almost smokey flavor is to caramelize the vegetables until nearly charred in parts. The walnuts deepen color and add to the roasty flavor of the final soup. They also add an incredibly rich creaminess that mimics cream and butter like nothing I’ve ever tried.

The resulting soup is somehow decadent and does well with a bright lift from the lemon tinged Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Gremolata. It’s the sort of dish that perfectly strikes that balance of being utterly satisfying and yet also pleasantly healthful.

 

*This post was created in partnership with California Walnuts. The words, recipe, photos and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting me and the work I do by supporting the brands that partner with me.

Celeriac, Green Apple and Walnut Soup

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium leek, halved, white and light green parts thinly sliced

1 large (1 lb) celeriac root, trimmed and roughly cubed

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 Granny Smith apple, core removed and roughly chopped

1 cup walnuts

1 medium potato, roughly cubed

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Gremolata

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted, finely chopped

2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, finely minced

Zest from one lemon

1 garlic clove, finely minced

Salt

Instructions

For the soup:

In a large dutch oven set over medium high heat add the olive oil. Stir in the leeks and sauté until just softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the celery root, garlic, apple, walnuts, and potato. Sauté the vegetables and nuts are deeply caramelized in parts, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Carefully pour in the stock and add a couple of hefty pinches of salt and a good bit of freshly cracked pepper. Bring the pot to a rolling boil then cover mostly and turn down the heat so the soup gently simmers.

Once all the vegetables are tender carefully transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until completely smooth.

Add more stock or a bit of water to get the desired texture. Taste and add more seasoning as needed.

Serve while warm with a generous shower of the walnut gremolata.

For the gremolata:

Combined the walnuts, rosemary, lemon zest and garlic in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and taste to adjust seasoning.

Store any leftover gremolata in a well sealed container in the fridge. Add to salads and soups as needed.

A food processor works wonders for the task of chopping all of these ingredients into a course sprinkle of sorts.

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Get Curious

Our little black rocking chair with dog scratches and bite marks on the legs and I became good friends over the holidays. I read books, started practicing Centering Prayer and fell deeper in love with Harry Potter. The last six months of 2018 are a bit of a blur and I needed sufficient time to take a reprieve of the constant selling of this and that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the work I do and am so honored to be able to support myself and my family doing it. In fact I am damn proud of my hard work and what is created as a result of that work. I mean, it’s not just me, I work with some crazy wonderful and talented people and we made some beautiful things this year and of course I want to tell you all about it and I want you all to love it and watch it and buy it so I can keep this whole thing going. But it’s exhausting. Have you seen this article?  So I sat in the rocking chair and stayed away from my phone (except for the occasional mindless game) and kept my computer close (except to watch Fraiser and The West Wing).

Anyway. That’s not exactly what I came here to say. I wanted to share with you something I wrote while in that rocking chair. And also to let you know that I have been in the kitchen today working on some new recipes to share with you shortly. As I type I have a whole cauliflower in the smoker. Fingers crossed on that experiement. In the meantime I’ll share some words and also point you to a few recipes in the archives that I still love to make this time of year. Like this citrus salad.  And speaking of smoke, do you remember this smoked pumpkin number?  We have our fair share of pasta this time of year. It’s the culinary equivalent to the blanket my grandmother crocheted for me. This roasted cauliflower linguini is often repeated.  And finally, soup. I’m a big big fan of the ease and coziness of soup. The method in this soup is one I repeat with any number of vegetables. 

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There is so much anticipation around a new year. I like the feeling of freshness it provides. The ability to say thanks for the past year and brush it aside with all the hopefulness of starting with a clean slate. I get fluttery with the anticipation of what the new year could be. For in this brief moment I feel a (however unrealistic) brief sense of control that I get choose my own destiny. What new habits will I strive to maintain and what lofty yet exciting goals will I create.

Inevitably reality crashes into my fantasies and somewhere, usually around March, I find a bit of a balance between my hope-filled goals and intentions created after the high of the holidays and the reality that settles after work, school and life begins.

This year I’ve been thinking about reframing in the hope that a subtle shift might not create such a vast space between hope and reality. What if instead of creating “goals” or “intentions” for the new year – which are often weighty words that in the back of our minds we already know that down the road they’ll be ditched alongside the Christmas gift we “needed” – what if we wrote down our curiosities. Like goals, we could use our curiosities to act as a road map but unlike goals, curiosities feel a bit more playful, more childlike and more easily adaptable to the inevitable shift when the collision of fantasy and reality hit.

Elizabeth Gilbert is a big fan of curiosity. She instructs the creative mind to shift the focus away from passions, which carries with it so much weight and angst,  to curiosities.

I am a big advocate for the pursuit of curiosity. You’ve maybe heard me talk about this before? We are constantly being told to pursue our passions in life, but there are times when passion is a TALL ORDER, and really hard to reach. In seasons of confusion, of loss, of boredom, of insecurity, of distraction, the idea of “passion” can feel completely inaccessible and impossible. In such times, you are lucky to be able to get your laundry done (that sometimes feels as high as you can aim) and when someone tells you to follow your passion, you want to give them the middle finger. (Go ahead and do it, by the way. But wait till their back is turned, out of civility.)

But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach.

I have goals, I have ambitions, I have hopes and desires for the new year but this year my focus is on what makes me curious. I want to give those fascinations the time and intention they deserve. And really, if I look back on some of my proudest accomplishments they were born out of my curiosities. Like when I became curious about taking better food photos and really digging into the mechanics of writing a successful recipe. Or when my curiosity led me to create restaurant quality food over the fire.

What are you curious about? And where are those curiosities going to lead you in the new year?

Happy 2019 friends! I can’t wait to be with you all for another year.

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