The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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January 28, 2013 , , ,

I don’t mind celery really but I do find the NYT’s recent obsession with the stalk to be a bit funny. I suppose something has to replace their seemingly lost crush on Brooklyn.

Celery it is.

Again, I don’t mind it, but it is easy to forget about it. You buy a bunch, use one stalk and then it sits in the fridge until half of it is a soggy, rotting mess. (No, this has never happened to me! I’ve only heard….) P freezes his which I found to be ingenious but then you have to actually remember to put it in the freezer after that first stalk.

I never think to add it to stir-fry or just cook it on it’s own as a side dish. Its’ taste is potent so of course it’s not for everyone. But, without a doubt, it does work in soup. Ms. Tara Parker – Pope was right when she says “If you are cooking with celery, don’t stop at one branch when you make soup.” But then, she goes on to talk about how it adds an herbal dimension. This I’m not so sure about. I’ve often found that celery disappears in soup – especially in the below recipe where it’s fighting against two pounds of broccoli.

In this case, no amount of celery would have made this a super flavorful soup. What it is good for is using up all that celery you have in the fridge and adding a bit more nutrients to your meal. The original recipe, which you can see here, is lacking a bit of depth. I altered a bit, still keeping it freezer safe while adding a little more flavor. This soup is a healthy conquest. Give it a shot and enjoy!

Once ready to eat, top with a healthy dollop of pesto, fresh herbs or a few slices of avocado….or all three. I also mixed in a nice dose (about 2 ounces) of non-fat Greek yogurt for a bit protein.

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 leeks, dark part trimmed off, white and light green section cut into slivers
4 stalks celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, to taste, minced
2 pounds broccoli, mostly crowns, chopped; stems, if using, peeled and diced
12 ounces potatoes, peeled and diced
2 quarts water or vegetable stock, homemade if possible.
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a Parmesan rind, and a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 ounces spinach leaves or baby spinach (1 cup, tightly packed)
Avocado, pesto, or fresh herbs for garnish

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not allow these ingredients to brown. Add a generous pinch of salt to prevent this from happening (the salt draws out liquid from the vegetables). Add the garlic and leeks. Cook, stirring, until the garlic smells fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Add the broccoli, potatoes, water or stock, bouquet garni, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes to one hour. Remove the bouquet garni. Stir in the spinach and let sit for a minute off the heat. Add freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt.

3. Using a hand blender, or in batches in a regular blender, purée the soup. Return to the pot and heat through, stirring. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, topping each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped herbs and with other garnishes of your choice.

(If using a regular blender fill only half way and cover the top with a towel pulled down tight, rather than airtight with the lid, because hot soup will jump and push the top off if the blender is closed airtight.)


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