Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Celery Root and Wild Rice Chowder

This is an absolutely amazing soup! I made it last week and have been looking forward to blogging about it ever since. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera handy when I was mixing it up but I'm sure I'll be making it again before too long so I'll post pictures then. When finished, it seems very sophisticated and is delicious, but it's fairly simple to throw together (or at least it felt simple to me when I was doing it). :) And don't worry, it doesn't really taste very much like celery at all. I personally don't really care much for celery, but I love this soup! Yum! 

The recipe comes from: Local Flavors by Deborah Madison. I would highly highly recommend it for anyone who likes to try out fun new/obscure (and old/traditional) vegetables. It is filled with great recipes using fun ingredients like: sorrel, nettles, lamb's quarters, chicory, kohlrabi, black kale... but there are plenty of recipes that feature only old standbys like tomatoes, corn, broccoli, and eggplant (to name only a few!). 

Celery Root and Wild Rice Chowder 
Serves 4 to 6 
from Local Flavors
by Deborah Madison 

1/2 cup wild rice
1 celery root (about 1 pound)
2 large leeks, white parts only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 celery rib, diced
1 cup thinly sliced russet potato
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 large thyme sprig 
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
2 cups half-and-half or milk 
truffle oil, optional 

1. Cover the wild rice with 5 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until tender. 

2. Thickly cut away the celery root skins, then quarter and chop the root into bite-sized pieces. You should have about 3 cups. Chop and wash the leeks. 

3. Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the vegetables, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the half-and-half and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Taste for salt and season with pepper. To give the soup a creamy background, puree a cup of the vegetables and return them to the pot. If the soup is too thick, thin it with some of the rice water or additional stock. 

4. Divide the soup among 4 to 6 bowls and then add a mound of the wild rice to each. Garnish each bowl with parsley and add a drop of truffle oil, if using, and serve. 

In my opinion, the final step of topping the soup off with wild rice, parsley, and truffle oil really made it something special. I don't think I would have bothered with the truffle oil at all, but we happened to have some that was given to us as a wedding present so it was really nice to get a chance to use it! Woodley and I both loved the texture of the wild rice and I think I'll be adding it to other chowders that I make in the future. It really gives it a hearty and wholesome flavor that makes the soup seem less rich. 


  1. Hey Liz! It's been along time since I've actually seen you, but I've enjoyed catching up on your life.

    I'm currently kind of housewife-ing it myself. I'm finding myself making chicken stock and doing the shopping and the mending. I'm putting in a veggie garden (and strawberries!).

    I recommend (for good food and good reading) The Joy of Cooking, it's a basic but a necessity. I'm not reading because I'm still in the middle of going to school, but I am blogging. Jim and I do not have commercial television. I'm loath to let commercials into my life! Something I see the two of you are doing as well.

    It was nice to catch up on your life. You still look just as beautiful as you always did!


  2. Elizabeth, does this cookbook have any recipes for orach? I am looking for one and if it does, I'll check it out at the library! Thanks - Jenn Wong

  3. Hi Carly!

    It's so great to hear from you! How's your veggie garden going? I still haven't gotten around to planting anything but I'm waiting for some seeds to come in the mail so hopefully I'll be able to start next week.

    Life without a television is nice. I think I would probably get more done though if there weren't so many shows available for free online. :) I guess it's a toss up though because I do like keeping up on Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. :) If you could send me a link, I'd love to check out your blog.

    The Joy of Cooking is awesome! It is so huge! We got a copy as a wedding present and I've flipped through it a bit but haven't actually sat down and read it (I think it would take me forever!) What's really nice though is that some of our friends gave us a Joy of Cooking Day by Day calendar that I keep by the kitchen sink read every day. It has little snippets of information that is easy to read in one setting!

    What else is new with you? Are you still in Bellingham?

  4. Hi Jenn!

    Sadly, Local Flavors doesn't have any recipes for orach. :( It does discuss it on one page dedicated to wild and unusual greens.

    Here's what it has to say, "Red or Ruby Orach or Mountain Spinach: Because it thrives in weather that's too hot for true spinach, you might be able to find this in your market during the height of the summer. The leaves are soft and large, pointed at the tips, and magenta on the surface facing the ground. The purple turns green when cooked, but it also bleeds, staining foods like pasta pink. The flavor of orach is not unlike spinach, and it can be used in the same way. While this is something of an exotic to most people, it has been in the American garden since the early 1800's and is frequently offered at farmer's markets."

    How are you and the kids doing? I hope you are having a fun week!