I like cooked celery. I think it’s a bit like cooked carrots or Brussel sprouts. You either like them, or you don’t. There isn’t much in between. Celery is a low calorie, high fiber food. I wouldn’t make celery soup every week, but every once in a while why not? As veggies go, celery is on the bland side. The addition of lemon, lemon zest and fresh basil makes a massive difference taste-wise. The leeks are important too. I was going to make a comment about self-important leeks, but I thought the better of it. On a completely unrelated topic this recipe calls for lemon zest. I no longer zest with a traditional, old-fashioned, totally last century zester. I zest with a microplane zester. My microplane zester is my new favorite kitchen tool. I love it. And it loves me in return. The zest it produces is perfect. Not too thick. Not too thin. Just exactly right in a Goldilocks and the Three Bears sort of way, only using modern kitchen utensils. If you don’t have one, get one. Right now.
Celery Soup with Lemon and Basil (serves 4)
- 2 tablespoons best quality butter, or olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 leeks, sliced lengthwise and then chopped
- ½ a large Vidalia onion, diced (1 ½ cups, give or take)
- 4 cups celery, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth will do just fine too – if you’d prefer a vegetarian soup)
- 8 large leaves fresh basil
- zest of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup half & half (skip the half & half if you prefer the vegan version)
Heat butter in a large skillet. Add shallot, leeks, onion and sauté until soft, 10-12 minutes. Add white wine and sauté five more minutes. Add the celery and sauté for ten minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer until the celery is soft but not mushy. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.
In batches process the soup and stock in a blender until it is very smooth. Gradually add the fresh basil leaves while you are processing the soup. Pour the soup back into a medium saucepan. Season with salt. Add half & half. Heat through and serve.