From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While this soup is very inexpensive to make, it is less substantial than most of the dishes that have been featured on Frugal Foodie Friday. I decided to share it with you because I know there are times when even those on restricted food budgets want something special to start a holiday meal. I thought this soup would be lovely to serve as a first course on Valentine's Day or Easter Sunday and I wanted to post it so those of you who are interested have ample time to do a trial run. The soup was developed by Martha Rose Shulman for The New York Times, and the first time I skimmed through her recipe, I knew it was a keeper. I was not, however, prepared for how delicious the soup would actually be. It is a winner on many levels. The soup is a light celery puree that is thickened with a single potato, and while the combination may sound mundane, I think you'll find it works wonderfully well and will get your meal off to a festive start. If leeks and the walnut oil are not available don't stress. Replace the leeks with another small onion and bypass the use of walnut oil altogether. How do you rate a recipe that is inexpensive to make, easy to prepare and a delight to the palate? I guess that depends on the reviewer, but I can tell you this soup made my socks go up and down and its been a while since that happened. I do hope you will try this soup. It is really good stuff. Here is how it is made.
Celery and Potato Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Martha Rose Shulman via The New York Times
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
1 large or 2 medium leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and sliced
6 celery stalks, sliced (about 3/4 pound)
1 medium-size russet potato, about 10 ounces, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved, green shoots removed
A bouquet garni made a bay leaf and a couple of sprigs each parsley and thyme, tied together
7 cups water or chicken stock
Freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons walnut oil
1/4 cup very thinly sliced celery, chopped chives or chervil (optional)
1) Heat olive oil over medium-low heat, add onion, leek, and celery, and cook gently, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt after the first 5 minutes. Do not allow vegetables to color.
2) Add potatoes, garlic, and bouquet garni. Stir together and add water or stock. Bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are very tender and broth is fragrant. Remove from heat.
3) Remove bouquet garni from soup. Using an immersion blender, puree soup (or you can put it through fine blade of a food mill or use a regular blender, working in batches and placing a kitchen towel over top to avoid splashing). Then strain through a medium strainer (this step is important; otherwise soup will be stringy), using back of a large spoon to push soup through. Make sure to scrape outside of strainer so that all of puree goes back into soup. Return to pot, stir with a whisk to even out texture, heat through and season well with salt and pepper.
4) Ladle soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a few thin slices of celery and about 1/4 teaspoon walnut oil. Sprinkle with minced chives or chervil if you wish, and serve. Yield: 6to8 servings.
Cook's Note: Soup can be made several hours or even a day ahead of serving. Refrigerate in covered containers. When you reheat, whisk the soup to smooth out the puree (it will separate as it sits).
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