Celery Soup with Blue Cheese
Originally, the older varieties of so-called 'dirty' celery from the flat, black-earthed Fenlands of East Anglia had a short season - from October to January. If you're lucky enough to find some to use in this soup, there is much washing to do, but the flavour is exceptional, especially after a light frost, when it's sweetest of all. Use a creamy blue cheese such as Cashel Blue or Blue Wensleydale if you can.
|1 lb (450 g) celery (1 large head, trimmed weight)|
|5 oz (150 g) blue cheese, rind removed and crumbled|
|2 oz (50 g) butter|
|1 potato (about 7 oz/200 g), peeled and diced|
|1 small onion, finely chopped|
|1 pint (570 ml) vegetable stock (click here for recipe)|
|5 fl oz (150 ml) single cream|
|salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|For the croutons:|
|4 oz (110 g) thickly sliced white bread, crusts removed and cut into small cubes|
|4 tablespoons walnut oil|
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This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas
First of all separate the stalks of celery from the base and trim, reserving the leaves for a garnish – the trimmed stalks should weigh 1 lb (450 g). Scrub them in cold water, drain them, then slice across into thinnish slices. Now in a large saucepan melt the butter and stir in the celery, the chopped potato and the onion. Stir everything around to get a good coating of butter, then put a lid on the pan and, keeping the heat at minimum, allow the vegetables to sweat for 10 minutes to release their buttery juices. Then uncover and pour in the stock and bring it up to simmering point.
Cover again and cook gently for 30 minutes: after that test that the vegetables are tender and, if not, re-cover and continue to cook until they are. Next remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream, then liquidise the soup along with the crumbled cheese until it is quite smooth. Return the soup to the rinsed-out pan and re-heat very gently (because the soup, at this stage, should not be boiled).
Taste and season with salt and pepper and serve the soup sprinkled with the chopped celery leaves and crisp croutons (made by heating the walnut oil in a large frying pan and frying the cubes of bread in it until golden brown).
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