Leek, red beet and celeriac soup
- 1 lb red beets (one large or two smaller)
- 1 lb leeks, weighed after the dark green leaves have been removed (save them to use in making stock or broth)
- 1 lb celeriac (in my case, two)
- olive oil
- 3 cups of homemade light chicken stock, or vegetarian option
- water, as needed
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- fresh juice of half a lemon
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Scrub the beet(s), wrap in foil and bake until easily pierced with a knife. Let cool until easy to handle, then slip off the skin. Slice as if you were making a beet salad. (If you buy beets with their greens still attached, cut the greens an inch above the beet, then proceed with the preparation.)
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, cut into 1/8-1/4-inch slices and rinse well in a colander. Warm up some olive oil in a soup pot, then add the leeks and stir well to coat. Let cook for a few minutes, then cover and continue cooking while you scrub, peel and cut the celeriac into chunks approximately the size of the pieces of red beet. Add celeriac to the leeks, stir, then cover and let cook gently for 10 minutes or so, stirring often.
Add the red beets, the stock and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Cover, bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook until the celeriac is soft (i.e., it can be easily mashed with the back of a spoon against the side of the pot). Remove from the heat, then purée with an immersion blender. Add water to obtain a soup of the desired consistency. Adjust salt and pepper, then add the lemon juice. Stir, then let the soup rest for a while before tasting to verify that the amount of lemon juice was sufficient to brighten the flavor of the soup. Making the soup at least a few hours before you are planning to serve it will give it enough time to rest and ripen.
Reheat the soup, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve with some cheese as topping (freshly grated or crumbled, depending on the kind of cheese you choose) and/or some cooked grains (like hull-less barley) added. In the photo at the top, I show the soup accompanied with Salt-and-Pepper Cookies.