Have you tried making celery soup? If not, you definitely should, it’s absolutely delicious.
Head straight to the recipe.
There is an amazing array of soups out there to keep you warm. In damp weather, it’s the strongest remedy to warm up our bones and lift the spirits. I picked celery this time, fresh bunches are abundant and this humble veg has become so commonplace, it deserves a tad more attention.
Celery is always in the kitchen, forever waiting, possibly towards the back of the fridge basket. In mine it normally sits next to a couple of carrots, the lot of them waiting patiently to get absent-mindedly chopped and pushed into the next pot of stew. Celery has been around for ages, and not just at the back of our fridge.
There are mentions of it in Homer’s poems. In Iliad, the horses of the Myrmidons graze on wild celery that grows in the marshes of Troy. In Odyssey, there is mention of the meadows of violet and wild celery surrounding the cave of Calypso. If it really smelled as nice around there, I wouldn’t mind prolonging the stay if I were Ulysses, be it for seven years.
Being so close to Halloween, I can’t help but mention that celery was a mighty symbol of burials, too. In ancient Greece, the bereaved wore wreaths of celery leaves when accompanying their dead at their final abode and they used to rest celery leaves on the graves, possibly leave it as a parting gift (?).
Wild celery leaves were also adorning anyone going out for a tipple. They must have been thinking it could magically keep inebriation at bay. Now, I say, they were carrying a snack. Cheers to that!
Celery was a symbol of celebration, too. Victors at the Nemean games (one of the four along the circuit, with most well known the Olympics) were crowned with a wreath of celery leaves. This, however, was later on replaced by a pine wreath. Ghastly vs Jovial score 1-2. Go celery!
The best bit though, is that celery even has a city named after it, albeit in disguise. It’s Selinunte, in Sicily, baptised from the Greek word for celery, selinon. Wild celery grew in the marshes nearby and what better than to name a city after its goods. Selinunte is one of the biggest Greek colonies founded back in 628 BC. The city thrived for many years and it even cut coins with their emblem, which is no other than the wild celery leaf. Nowadays it’s an archaeological park. There are some impressive temples still standing nearby the small modern fishing village of Marinella de Selinunte.
Its mild, herby, slightly peppery taste makes soups and stews a little better. It deserves to be the star for once: Celery soup!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 300 g celery sliced, with tough strings removed
- 1 garlic clove peeled
- 200 g potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- 100 ml milk
- nigella seeds
- crusty bread to serve
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the celery, garlic and potatoes and coat in the oil.
- Add a splash of water and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly for 15 mins, adding a little more water if the veg begins to stick.
- Pour in the vegetable stock and milk and simmer for 20 mins further, until the potatoes are falling apart and the celery is soft. Purée the soup with a stick blender.
- Top with nigella seeds and serve with crusty bread.
from London with love,