What's that vegetable? The gnarled celery root

Feb. 28, 2011 at 12:56 PM ET

Michelle Hainer /

Celeriac, also known as celery root, is one vegetable that is often overlooked in the produce aisle. It’s not very pretty—with its gnarled top and rough looking skin—and it’s not the kind of vegetable that springs to mind when deciding what to make for dinner. Tonight I think we’ll have… celery root! I’ve often passed it by myself and even mistook it for a sun choke once—they were in the same bin and I absent mindedly put it in my basket—but when a cashier at Whole Foods mentioned that celery root is delightful in soups, I was intrigued. I do love a hearty soup, especially during winter, so I decided to try working with this mysterious root.

Celeriac is indeed a variety of celery, but it’s grown more for its knobby looking root than its stalk. Once peeled, the flesh looks a lot like a potato, but it has a distinctly celery–like flavor. I researched recipes using celery root and came across this celery root and apple soup on It got rave reviews from other users (my favorite part of Epicurious) and the recipe involved one of my favorite techniques for making soup—pureeing. I favor creamier soups over broths, but creamy soups are often high in fat and calories. However, pureeing allows me to achieve the texture I’m after, without a lot of heavy add-ins. Bonus: celeriac is naturally low in calories. One cup of the cooked veggie only has about 40 calories and no fat.

MIchelle Hainer /

This soup did not disappoint. It’s delicious! The chive oil and pancetta are easy enough to prepare, so if you have the time, don’t skip them. I tasted the soup both with and without them and they really up the flavor ante.  I used olive oil rather than grape seed to make the chive oil, so use what you have in the pantry. And if you have an immersion blender, you can puree the soup right in the pot. I love mine and was very distressed when the battery died right as I was about to use it! However, you can also puree the soup in a blender, which is what I ended up doing. Just be sure to do so in small batches because the liquid will be very hot. I added another ¼ cup or so of chicken stock right before pureeing and the soup was still the perfect consistency, so feel free to play with the ratios to your liking.

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.