Celery root or celeriac is a gnarly looking vegetable that might be showing up at the farmers market these days. You may also find it sitting in the produce section of the grocery store waiting to be purchased. Don't be turned off by its appearance. It's a delicious root vegetable that should make its way onto your dinner table.
Over the years, I have experimented with it in various recipes. In one recipe, I shred it raw and mix it with shredded apple for fresh and crisp salad that is a perfect stand-in for coleslaw. I've also mashed it into a puree and roasted it. It's one of those root vegetables that has many applications and uses in cooking.
The flavor is similar to celery (hence the name) but it is not the root of a celery plant. Rather, celeriac is its own varietal. The flesh is creamy in color, once you get past the outer part of the root. A pairing knife is the best tool to cut through the outer skin of the bulb.
For this recipe, I stopped at a farm stand to pick up a few vegetables for the week and I incorporated many of them into this recipe. You could just make the soup base (it's similar to leek and potato soup) but the kale and apple garnish adds a whole other level of flavor (sweet, spicy).
Spicy Celery Root (Celeriac) Soup
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and leeks; sauté for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the celery root, lentils, and stock. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the celery root is tender, about 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the garnish. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes; sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the apples; sauté for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned and softened. Add the kale and thyme; season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until the kale begins to wilt slightly; about 2-4 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set garnish aside until ready to serve.
To finish the soup, puree the soup using an immersion blender, stand blender, or food processor. Puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
To serve, pour soup into the bowl and garnish with the kale apple mixture. Enjoy!