|celeriac and Stilton soup|
Celeriac, to the uninitiated, looks like something you would see on an episode of Dr Who - it has a somewhat monstrous and alien appearance, a bit like Bill Nighy as Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean. But don't be put off by its tentacle-like roots. Celeriac has both an intensely celery flavour, with a hint of smokiness and goes beautifully with any tangy blue cheese.
Skill level: Easy
1 x medium English onion, finely chopped
1-2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 x medium celeriac (about 750g to 1kg), peeled and roughly chopped
1 litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
100ml white wine (optional)
1 x bay leaf
1 x sprig of fresh thyme (or half tsp dried thyme)
250g Stilton, crumbled (set a little aside to garnish the soup)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic and celeriac. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the stock and white wine and bring to the boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Set aside and leave to cool before blending. (Do not try to blend when hot, as this can be dangerous, particularly if using a jug blender. A combination of hot soup, a build-up of steam and vibration, can cause the hot liquid to explode out of the blender. Safer to let it cool a little!)
- Before blending remove the bay leaf and if using a sprig of thyme the woody stem.
- After blending, you may decide to pass the soup through a sieve for extra smoothness.
- Return the soup to a clean saucepan and bring back to a simmer.
- Add the milk and warm through.
- Add the crumbled Stilton and stir continuously until the cheese has melted into the soup. Do not let the soup boil as it may curdle.
- Check the seasoning. It is unlikely you will need any salt as the Stilton will be quite salty.
- Serve with a little of the stilton crumbled over each bowl.
- Add matchsticks of chopped apple to the soup before serving adds a tart but sweet contrast to the soup.
- Top with a little sliced celery for added crunch.
- Replace the celeriac with a head of celery, chopped and a medium potato, to add a little bulk to the soup.
- I like to use most blue cheeses with this soup, such as Wensleydale, Stichelton, Gorgonzola or Roquefort. I particularly like using a blue Brie or Cambozola as I particularly like the way the rind turns into a sort of cheese "toffee" through heating. It is not to everyone's taste!
- This soup can be served chilled, with a swirl of cream.
- Replace the white wine, with white port for extra sumptuousness.