Vellutata di Sedano

celery soup white bowl

Celery seems to have been left out of the current vegetable love fest. For awhile, kale was the primary object of all the affection. This year it’s Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. But celery? No love.

Here’s the thing: we all have a bag of celery in our fridge. And maybe that’s the problem. Supermarket celery, with its pale stalks and lopped off tops ~ not a leaf in sight ~ is nothing like real celery, the kind you grow in your garden or find at the farmers’ market.

celery

I bought this bunch of celery at the Twin Springs Fruit Farm stall at my local market. It is everything celery should be: crunchy and succulent, with an assertive ~ almost bracing ~ flavor. So much flavor. Those leaf tops! Chopped up, they make a wonderful base, along with carrots and onions, for soups, sauces and stews. You can also toss the leaves into salad ~ lettuce salad or, say, potato salad ~ or use them as a garnish, especially for fish (if you like poached fish, put the leaves in your poaching broth).

I used some of this bunch to make my annual batch of giardiniera. The rest I turned into vellutata di sedano ~ cream of celery soup. I made it in the classic Italian style, with a little carrot and onion, plus a potato for body, and good broth. I had homemade mascarpone on hand, so I stirred in a dollop for added richness. I pureed the soup using an immersion blender. You can strain it through a fine-mesh sieve for a smoother texture.

This is a good first-course soup. I can’t emphasize enough how good it is. It is filled with the flavor of celery ~ deep and savory, assertive and yet somewhat mellowed from the cooking. Real celery. Follow this soup with poached or roasted fish, roast chicken, or a frittata. Or, dare I say, roast turkey on Thanksgiving Day. It’s definitely good enough to grace the holiday table. And that, IMHO, is where celery belongs.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Vellutata di Sedano {Cream of Celery Soup}

Make this comforting soup in autumn, when you can find fresh celery at the farmers' market. It makes a big difference. Use some of the leafy tops in the soup and use the rest to flavor broths, sauces and stews, and to put in winter salads. I added a dollop of mascarpone cheese to enrich this soup, but you can use heavy cream or even whole milk. For a lighter version, just leave out the dairy.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into rounds
  • 1 small russet potato, diced
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped, including some of the tops and leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, more if necessary
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • Celery leaves for garnish
  • Homemade croutons for serving (optional; see NOTE)

Instructions

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter in the oil over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the onion, carrot, and potato. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the carrot is bright orange.

Add the celery to the pot, along with 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook without browning (reduce heat to low if necessary) until all the vegetables are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of broth, cover, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. All the vegetables must be soft. Poke a few of the larger pieces with a fork to make sure. Remove from the heat.

Use an immersion blender or a standard blender to puree the vegetables, adding more broth as necessary. Return the pot to the heat and stir in the mascarpone or cream. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and add more broth if you like to thin out the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt or pepper. Sprinkle in the parsley and remove from the heat.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with parsley and celery leaves. Top with croutons.

NOTE: To make homemade croutons: Cut bread into bite-sized cubes and toss with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again. Spread the bread cubes out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes, tossing them once or twice during that time, until they are nicely browned and crisped.

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23 Responses to Vellutata di Sedano

  1. "Deja Vu" Cook November 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Celery soup is a Star.

    • Domenica Marchetti November 20, 2014 at 9:12 am #

      I agree. Even my son, who has never been one for soup, enjoyed it.

  2. staceysnacks November 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Domenica, I so agree!
    That poor, lonely, dried out bunch of celery hearts in the crisper drawer would make a celery hater out of anyone.
    This season I bought FRESH celery. I am LOVING it! especially the fragrant leaves (we had a celery leaf pesto on stracciatella recently!).
    Look out tuna salad!

    • Domenica Marchetti November 20, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      Celery leaf pesto ~ that’s a great idea, Stacey. I just bought another bunch yesterday. Will definitely be making that, and tuna salad. I usually put a shake of celery seed in my tuna salad (along with a chopped hard-boiled egg). Fresh leaves will put it over the top.

  3. elisa November 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Delicious!!! and when I make it I sprinkle toasted crushed hazelnuts on it instead if croutons.

  4. Faith Bahadurian November 17, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    It’s wonderful to see underrated celery get its due, thank you!

  5. Chiara November 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    un comfort food perfetto per questo periodo umido, è una vera coccola !

  6. ciaochowlinda November 18, 2014 at 12:29 am #

    Oh yes. Celery is the neglected stepsister of the vegetable world and it’s about time it got elevated. I want to try your soup, and also braised celery too. I even had a celery ice cream as part of a dessert at Del Posto restaurant in NYC and it was delicious.

    • Domenica Marchetti November 20, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      Intrigued! Glad to know celery is getting its due at Del Posto.

  7. Adri Barr Crocetti November 18, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    What a beautiful soup! Talk about neglected indeed. And this is too funny – every Christmas our family begins our feast with Cream of Celery Root Soup! Separated at birth…

    • Domenica Marchetti November 20, 2014 at 9:18 am #

      Oh my goodness! It would make a lovely first course for Christmas. We usually do the classic cappelletti in brodo, which is far more labor-intensive!

      • Phyllis@Oracibo November 20, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

        I am loving the idea of this soup or a celeriac soup for Christmas….love capelletti in brodo but yup…molto lavoro, especially at Christmas…have tried to use frozen tortellini but…

  8. Phyllis@Oracibo November 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Love the fresh celery we have been getting at our farmers market…I also make a celery soup which pretty much contains the same ingredients as yours but your addition of mascarpone…yum! I often chop and freeze the leaves. One of our favourite salads has celeriac, apple, celery and some of the leaves, and chopped toasted hazelnuts… delicious!

    • Domenica Marchetti November 20, 2014 at 9:19 am #

      Phyllis, I love those crunchy winter salads. You’re the second to mention the combination of celery and hazelnuts, which I must now try. Your idea of chopping and freezing the leaves is a good one because if they sit too long in the fridge they start to wilt. Thanks!

      • Phyllis@Oracibo November 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

        Prego Domenica! I use the frozen leaves in all sorts of things like soups, stews and making stock…always thought a good thing to keep in the freezer and I hate to throw them away…seems like such a waste! Do you think our grannies would approve?

  9. sippitysup November 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    I so agree about celery, especially the leaves. One of my fav salads ever I had in Italy (more than 20 years ago). It was nothing more than thinly sliced celery hearts, lots of celery leaves, raw mushrooms, good olive oil and lemon juice. I’ve been a celery lover ever since. So this soup is a winner to me. GREG

    • Domenica Marchetti November 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

      That salad! I can just about taste it Greg. I’ll bet the mushrooms had flavor, too. It’s all about the quality of the ingredients.

  10. Frank Fariello November 23, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    This is why I find food fashion so irritating and fatuous. Anyway, I’m a big celery fan, too, cooked or raw, I really enjoy its bracing flavor.

    • Domenica Marchetti November 23, 2014 at 10:29 am #

      Frank, I feel the same. The idea that one vegetable is trendier than another is absurd. Talk about first world problems. Thanks for your comment.

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