Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweet Potato, Mushroom & Celeriac Soup with Bacon

I love celeriac. A large knobby root vegetable, it tastes better than it looks. Although I often make Celeriac Rémoulade in the summer, I've never used it in a soup until I came across this delicious recipe for Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Celeriac Soup with Bacon. Celeriac, famous for being an aphrodisiac, is chocked full of vitamins and minerals and is supposed to keep you young and relaxed, not to mention the nutritional powerhouse of the sweet potato — ranked highest among all vegetables for nutritional value. 

The delicate and bitter nuttiness of the celeriac, the earthy fragrance of the crimini mushrooms and the creamy texture of the sweet potato all balance beautifully, creating a wonderfully thick and wholesome soup, perfect for a chilly evening in front of the fire. The crispy smokey bacon and rich crème fraîche provide a lovely depth of flavour and subtle smokiness to this robust and nutritional powerhouse of a soup, chocked full of vitamins, iron and calcium and of course, sweet and savoury goodness.

Sweet Potato, Mushroom & Celeriac Soup with Bacon
Serves 4

6 slices bacon, diced
1 lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups celeriac, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup crème fraîche
1 small zucchini, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh chives, plus more for garnish
1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
creme fraiche

Cook the bacon in a large pot until it's brown and crispy. Remove, chop into a uniform dice and set aside for garnish.

In the bacon fat, add the mushrooms and cook at medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, until they have released their moisture. Increase the heat and add the sherry or wine. Cook until most of the alcohol has cooked off, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into the same pot, add the sweet potato and celeriac and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then simmer 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are almost cooked.

Stir in the cream and zucchini and bring to a boil. Add the herbs and cooked mushrooms, and simmer 2 minutes. Using a handheld immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Season to taste, adding a little water if the soup is too thick.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with a swirl of crème fraîche, a spoonful of crispy bacon and a sprinkle of chives.