September is the best month for celeriac in Europe.
Celeriac may appear as an ugly, uninteresting, knobbly root but don’t be fooled – it’s brimming with nutrients and adds delicate flavour and subtle texture to autumn dishes.
Celeriac is derived from wild celery, which has a small, edible root and has been used in Europe since ancient times.
It’s mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as selinon.
It’s unclear when celeriac was first cultivated but there are references to it dating back to the seventeenth century.
Its flesh is crispy when raw and smooth when cooked and has a delicate taste which suggests the flavours of celery and parsley with a slight nuttiness.
I love one pot lunches, so created this Tuscan-style satisfying and nutritious soup with celeriac combined with chick peas (garbanzo beans), winter squash and cabbage, flavoured with fennel seeds.
This dish provides 10 per cent of your daily protein needs but only 5 per cent of daily calorie needs. It's very high in dietary fibre and also contains substantial amounts of vitamins A, C, B1, B6 and folate and the minerals potassium, copper, manganese and iodine (the iodine comes from the vegetable stock which included the sea vegetable kombu).
For more detailed information please read my article on the health benefits of celery and celeriac.
You can also try celeriac mashed with potatoes and garlic or in the French favourite Celeri Rémoulade, which is basically grated celeriac in mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and seasonings.
- 2 tsp olive oil or 2 tbsp water
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 small red onions, peeled and diced
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ medium-sized celeriac (approx. 375g/13oz), peeled and cut into small (1cm/⅓”) chunks
- ½ small winter squash (270g/9½oz), peeled and cut into small (1cm/⅓”) chunks
- 400g/14oz can (240g/8oz drained weight) cooked chickpeas
- 750ml/1½ pints vegetable stock (see instructions below)*
- 1 tsp sweet white miso (diluted in a little water)
- 250g/8oz savoy cabbage, washed and finely shredded
Heat oil or water in a thick-based pan with a pinch of sea salt, add onions and fennel seed and sweat gently until onion is soft and translucent.
Add chickpeas (garbanzo beans), celeriac, squash and vegetable stock* and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Season with diluted miso, adding a little at a time until you’ve achieved the desired taste.
Right at the end, add the shredded savoy cabbage and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve in a bowl with a crusty roll or sprouted bread.
You can also make this one-pot lunch soup in a slow cooker.
Just put onions, fennel seeds, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), celeriac, squash, and vegetable stock in a slow cooker and leave on a medium setting for 1-2 hours, or on a low setting for 5-6 hours. Season with miso to taste at the end. Lightly steam the shredded cabbage and mix into the soup just before serving.
To make your own vegetable stock
- 2 leeks
- 3 carrots
- Outside cabbage leaves
- 4 sticks celery
- Mushroom stalks
- Pea pods if available
- Large handful of assorted herbs, e.g., basil, marjoram, lovage, parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 strip dried kombu sea vegetable
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 litres/3½ pints water
Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Strain and discard vegetables.
Return liquid to pan and reduce to desired strength.
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