Yummy! Celery soup

Published 12:22 am Saturday, January 17, 2015

Most of us think of celery as a crunchy, low-cal vegetable or perhaps one of the ingredients in your Thanksgiving dressing. It may be time to rethink this vegetable and consider it a key part of your health support system.

In addition to well-known antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids, scientists have now identified at least a dozen other types of antioxidant nutrients in celery. The antioxidant support we get from celery is largely due to its phenolic nutrients that have been shown to help protect us against unwanted oxygen damage to our cells, blood vessels, and organ systems. If you steam your celery instead of boiling or blanching, you can retain 83-99 percent of these antioxidants.

As far as refrigeration of celery, a period of five to seven days is recommended as a window of time for consuming fresh celery. Refrigerating for longer periods reduces the benefits of celery. It is also recommended that you chop your celery just before adding it to a salad, rather than chopping it up the night before.

Celery seems to give digestive tract support. Celery has a pectin-based polysaccharides including apiuman. This appears to have special importance in producing anti-inflammatory benefits which help with the integrity of the stomach lining, decrease risk of stomach ulcer, and better controls the levels of stomach secretions.

Regardless of what type of celery you buy or grow, there are nutrient benefits to be found in all parts of the plant, including the leaves, stalks, roots, and seeds. “Celery hearts” usually refers to the innermost stalks of Pascal celery. These stalks are the most tender.

A cup of raw celery is only 16 calories. But most people do not seek it out unless to use as a vegetable for a dip or in a tuna salad perhaps. The secret is to find recipes that make it tastier such as in a soup. Since we need more “green” in our diet I am always looking for ways to include green vegetables in my meals. I found a really good celery soup (my husband really liked it) and it is flavored with some bacon on top which makes is tastier. You could leave the bacon out of the soup and it is still very good. So go and get some celery and feel good about it! It certainly needs to be added to your list of good vegetables.

Taken from ‘Food and Wine Magazine’ 2015.

Celery Soup with Bacon Croutons

Serves 8

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3 medium leeks, halved and thinly sliced

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and pepper

12 large celery ribs (2 lbs.), trimmed and thinly sliced

4 oz. bacon, finely diced

Three ½-inch-thick slices of country bread, cut into ½-inch dice

½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream (I used sour cream)

Lemon olive oil, for drizzling (I used regular olive oil)

In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the leeks, onions, garlic and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 12 minutes. Add the celery and cook, stirring, until just starting to soften, about three minutes. Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to moderate. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to half of a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the bacon fat. Add the bread and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned and crisp 8 minutes. Transfer to the other side of the prepared baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan, whisk in the crème fraîche or sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, topped with the bacon, croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.