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Cream of Celery-Apple Soup

For a second year I plopped, well planted really, six celery seedlings in my backyard in the spring. Celery is so easy to grow and the delicous taste is like nothing you will find in a grocery store. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, pick youself up a few seedlings and give it a go. If you plant more than two seedlings though, you’ll have some to share with the neighbors.

Makes about 3 quarts or eight 1 ½ cup servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium shallots or yellow onions, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup calvados, optional
1 1/4 pounds (about 10 large stalks) celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick crosswise
Some of the leaves reserved for garnish
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium apple, peeled and cubed
2 white (or orange) carrots
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
½ cup heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat butter in a large (4-quart) heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, a pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper and cook until translucent; about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté just until tender, about 1 minute. Add calvados (if using) and simmer to burn off any alcohol, about another minute.

Add potato, apple, carrots, and stock. Bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup until smooth. (To prevent splattering, fill blender only halfway, and allow the heat to escape: Remove cap from hole in lid; cover lid with a dish towel, holding down firmly while blending.) Return soup to pan; stir in lemon juice, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with celery leaves.