Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Only the pure of heart can make good soup" - Beethoven

It has been a mighty long time since my last post, I shall try not to make a habit of it. I spent the end of August in my home and native land, the Ottawa Valley. While I was there the weather took a turn for the worse, as it does every time I visit. It seems hurricane Bill (seriously? Bill? Could they have come up with a more benign name?) brought some cold weather and rain inland, and it downright felt like fall.

Although I am a die-hard summer fan, there is one thing that I look forward to with the coming chill in the air - soup season!! Living in Canada one has to find a silver lining in our seemingly endless winters. Some people play hockey, others ski, but not me. I make soup.

Though the weather has once again warmed, it's too late, I've caught the soup bug. Lucky for me, this early start to soup season has coincided with end of summer produce harvest, the makings of very delicious soup to be sure! The last time I was at the farmer's market I picked up some celery, then foolishly picked some up at the grocery store on Monday. With all this extra celery I just had to make a celery soup.

"Canada is the essence of not being. Not English, not American, it is the mathematic of not being. And a subtle flavour - we're more like celery as a flavour. " - Mike Myers

Celery's flavour may be subtle, but it is also a lovely flavour, that, with a little encouragement, can add great depth to a soup. I simply adore celery. My uncle despises it and I think he's crazy. It belongs to the family Umbelliferae (or Apiaceae, depending on your preference), a family that also includes carrots, and savory spices such as caraway, fennel, dill, parsley and cilantro. Not only is celery delicious, but very healthy. With only 10 calories per 100 grams, it is a guilt free source of vitamin C, calcium, fiber, and iron. It is a food that has been with us for ages. In the eighth century BC, Homer wrote in the second book of The Iliad: "Their horses stood each by his own chariot, champing lotus and wild celery." Lucky horses.

Celery Soup
Makes 1 serving - double, triple or quadruple if you're cooking for more than yourself!

3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp celery seed
3 mini potatoes, or 1 smallish potato, chopped
1 1/2 cups veggie stock

Saute celery and onion until softened. Add garlic and celery seed and saute 1 minute more. Add potatoes and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until potatoes are softened. Puree with a hand blender (or transfer carefully into a normal blender). Top with some freshly ground pepper, and a celery leaf if you want a little extra somethin-somethin.

Factoid: Celery seed should be avoided by pregnant women as it stimulates the uterus and is rumored promote miscarriage!!

I ate this with a toasted mock tuna salad sandwich (which I made using only 2 spoonfuls of veganaise, I totally agree with Lindy Loo that 1/4 cup is way too much). They paired very well and made for a satisfying and healthy dinner.

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