Garden Soup time!
With the nights drawing in and with the noticeable drop in air temperature, I feel the need to get out my big pan and cook up some freezable batches of soup. This garden soup is a brand new recipe and one that came about due to the tonnes and tonnes of celery leaves we've had in our veg patch this year.
I kid you not - we planted 6 or so tiny celery shoots and ended up with enough celery to feed a small army.
Not something at the top of most people shopping lists and I know a lot of people would rather avoid celery. However, the humble celery stick is highly regarded in our household....more so since the creation of this great soup (and maybe a little more so by me than Ben, I could eat celery all day long).
So why do I love celery?
- Its super low in calories and fat (guilt free eating all the way)
- It contains a good amount of fibre so is great for digestion.
- Its shape, texture and strength make it perfect for chopping into crudites for dips. (check out my beetroot and red pepper dip for something sweet and zinging to dip your celery into).
- Its ridiculously easy to grow. It really does take care of itself; as long as it has good soil and the room to grow to its full potential (a good 30cm between plants). The yield is also pretty good, especially in terms of leaves.
- It can be used in all types of recipes and really gives a great boost to the flavour: salads, stews, soups, pesto. (watch out for my celery pesto post coming soon)
- Its leaves, which are often over looked, usually have the most flavour and have a lovely deep green colour. As each plant supplies a large quantity of leaves; its more than likely that celery growers will find themselves over run. As the leaves are so bulky it can be extremely difficult to store them, so celery leaf soups, stews and pestos are the perfect solution. They look so pretty as well with the vibrant bright green shining through.
The ingredients to this soup were more of a happy accident rather than anything I'd sat down and thought about.
I knew we had a mountain of celery leaves...
and a few onions that we had grown, that had just about dried out....
and fresh apples that had just fallen off our little tree...
and some delicious blue cheese that was left over from a cottage pie I'd cooked earlier on in the week (cottage pie with blue cheese mash: a very indulgent, and super delicious, like oh my days this is food heaven, Tom Kerridge dish. I definitely recommend it).
And so my garden soup was born
Its rustic, its hearty and its a really properly homemade soup. The fresh taste from the celery leaves is nicely balanced here with the sweet apples and the bitter blue cheese. It really is a soup that has it all and is just what I want to come home to on a dark, rainy night. This with my PJs, a good film and a nice bottle of red is top of my list for a great night in. Clearly my party till 4 in the morning days are well and truly over 🙂
Anyway the point is celery isn't just that boring, tasteless, chewy thing that sometimes ends up in your salads. With a little extra help it can be a truly magnificent veggie.
Also loving my new crockery and this bowl in particular is really great for all my soups. I have a few other items, which have all been hand made by a potter in North Wales. Very impressive work, I can't wait to use them all.
If you do happen to be growing any celery or want to give it a go next year then here's a few extra pointers:
- Celery needs its space to grow fully and its surprising how much it will spread. So leave plenty of room between plants.
- Celery is ready to harvest when the sticks are around 20cm or more in length.
- Healthy celery has upright stems which snap. Stems should not be limp and bendy.
- Leaves should be fresh, crisp and a darker green to the rest of the plant
- When harvesting try to keep the stem connected at the base and store as a whole plant. This helps to keep its freshness. Celery can be kept in the fridge for several weeks.
- The leaves are less easy to store as they are quite bulky and there can be a lot just on one plant. They are also at their freshest and tastiest just after being removed from the stems. Therefore, remove and use as soon as you can. If you can't use all the leaves place washed leftovers in a bowl, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
- If using the stalks in a recipe, use a peeler and scrape away the outer layer, which will remove the stringy bits which can be quite annoying if they get stuck in your teeth.
- If you're making this soup in a big batch for freezing, leave the blue cheese out and add later. Defrost, reheat and then melt in the cheese before serving. The fresh cheese really adds to the taste of the soup and helps bring it back to life. It also means you'll have some cheese leftover for a pretty topping.
- Not a fan of blue cheese? Then leave it out. Its still a very tasty dish with plenty of flavour. Or you could always replace with a different cheese - I imagine a cream cheese would work really well.
Don't forget to have a nosy at the new nutritional labels I'm using.
This is a recipe that is packed full of nutrients as well as flavour so the nutritional information makes for an interesting read (if your into that kind of thing like me that is).
And please leave me a comment below of you have any thoughts or questions.
Celery, Apple and Blue Cheese Garden Soup
**Estimated nutritional information per serving and per 100g of celery, apple and blue cheese soup. If you want find out more about how the information is calculated and the sources used, please refer to my Nutrition Information Guide.