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Creamy Celeriac Soup

We’ve taken the liberty of combining two very similar recipes from GoodFood Magazine, published a few years apart, to create this lovely — and most delicious — soup. While it makes an outstanding dinner party starter, this recipe can also be turned into supper fare by hiding a lightly poached egg in the bottom of each bowl before ladling in the soup, yielding an altogether heartier result. Either way, we think you’ll find it’s most satisfying to turn such an ‘ugly duckling’ (the knobby celery root) into such a fair and comely swan!

Creamy Celeriac Soup

splash olive oil, plus some to serve
4 oz. sliced pancetta
5 tbs. butter, divided
1 onion, finely diced
1 slice bacon, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 thyme sprigs, plus leaves to serve
1 bay leaf
1 lb. 8 oz. celeriac, peeled and cut into small dice*
1 qt. chicken stock
6 fl. oz. heavy cream

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Sizzle the pancetta for about 3 minutes on each side until crisp, then remove to a plate and set aside.

Melt 2 tbs. of the butter in the same pan, add the onion and bacon and cook for a couple of minutes just to soften. Add the garlic, leek, celery, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute, then add the diced celeriac.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover partly with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, or until the celeriac is just tender. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf, and purée the soup with a stick blender (or transfer in several batches into a food processor) until smooth.

Put the heat to medium low and stir in the cream, then whisk in the remaining 3 tbs. butter. Season the soup with salt and white pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with the pancetta (torn into pieces), some thyme leaves, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

* Celeriac discolors quickly once peeled and exposed to the air, so put your diced pieces into a bowl of cold water to which you have added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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