Why do most supermarkets insist on half-heartedly wrapping celery in a bit of plastic and selling it as beheaded stalks? What happens to those beautiful leaves? Is it simply a question of transportability? Has mass-market celery been genetically modified to be all stalk and no leaves? Are the celery tops repackaged and sold for a premium under another guise? Or were shoppers surreptitiously tearing away the leaves and discarding them prior to purchase when everything was bought loose and paid for by weight? By the way, if you were/are guilty of this practice with broccoli click here to find out why the stalks are the new floret.
For whatever reason, supermarkets decide exactly which part of the vegetable we will be offered, quite often wash it some vile chlorine solution, and then shrink-wrap the entire thing to avoid any funny business.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a farmers market or wholefood co-operative then you will be able to get some good produce in its original state, maybe even with some bits of free soil attached.
Wherever you may be, if you glance some fresh celery waving their lustrous unblemished leaves at you then snatch them up and make some glorious soup. Celery seems to be mostly required in recipes by the stick, which in my experience, results in half a bunch wilting in the fridge. This recipe uses the whole bunch, leaves included.
Recipe - Simple celery soup
- A large knob of butter
- 2 small onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 plump cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 bunch celery (preferably with leaves), roughly chopped
- 1.25 litres chicken stock*
- A touch of lemon zest – finely grated
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Double cream (optional)
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onions and cook on a medium heat. When the onions are transparent, mix in the celery and cook for another minute or so before lowering the heat and adding the garlic. Cook the mixture gently, stirring often, for a couple of minutes or until the garlic is very fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock and grate in a touch of lemon zest. Season.
Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for around 20 minutes or until the celery has softened. Blend until smooth and, if you like, stir in or drizzle though a couple tablespoons of cream before serving.
*Chicken stock will give a superior flavour but vegetable stock can be substituted.