Foreign & Domestic is bringing back its popular Indie Chefs Week dinner series this week, showing off the talents of 30 innovative chefs from coast to coast. The visiting chefs collaborate for elaborate dinners Thursday and Friday leading up to a 15-course show-stopper of a meal with all of them on Saturday, Jan. 10. Tickets ($195-$315) and information are available at indiechefsweek.com.
It’s hard to duplicate that kind of culinary expertise at home, but here is a celery root soup that’s within reach for ordinary cooks who really like celery and celeriac, or celery root (right).
Celery Root Soup with Pepperoni, Pickled Celery and Paprika
For the pickled celery:
4 stalks celery
1 tsp. black peppercorn
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. coriander seed
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 cup champagne vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
For the paprika oil:
2 Tbsp. smoked paprika (pimentón)
1/2 cup olive oil
For the soup:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lb. celery root, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 head fennel, sliced
1/2 white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 lb. sliced pepperoni
For the pickled celery: Using a peeler, peel the celery stalks lengthwise into thin ribbons. Place in a large mason jar.
Combine all the spices in a medium skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant. Let cool, then secure them in a cheesecloth sachet. Add to the jar.
In a medium saucepan, heat together the vinegar, water and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolved. Carefully pour the hot mixture over the celery. Let cool at room temperature. The pickles can be made a week in advance; leave the spice sachet in the brine to infuse more flavor.
For the paprika oil: Add the paprika to a medium skillet over medium heat. Pour the olive oil over and heat, stirring together, for a few minutes to toast the paprika. Strain using a fine-mesh strainer and discard the paprika solids.
To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the celery root, celery, fennel, onion and garlic and saute until the celery and onion are softened. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any bits of vegetables in the bottom of the pot. Add the stock, cream, butter, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer on low for about 45 minutes or until the celery root is tender.
Remove the thyme and bay leaf and puree the soup in a blender or food processor. The soup can be served as is, but at F&D it is strained through a conical sieve to ensure the texture is smooth.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a swirl of the paprika oil, the pickled celery and the pepperoni. Serves 4.
— From Foreign & Domestic chef/owner Ned Elliott