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19th Century-Style Potage of Celeriac, Garlic, and Sweet Onion

Photo: Oxmoor House


Hands-on time 20 mins
Total time 1 hr, 20 mins
Yield Serves 8 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
Old-school French chefs are serious about sweating vegetables for soups. Farm-fresh vegetables at their peak, slowly sweated in the right fat, can become a glorious soup, with nothing but water to adjust viscosity. We take sweating a touch further here, rounding out the almost citrusy aroma of celery root with chicken broth and fresh thyme. (This makes a heck of a vegetable puree if you use 2 cups of broth. Think of it as an alternative to mashed potatoes.) Serve with slightly charred rustic--preferably multi-grain--bread rubbed with garlic and spritzed with olive oil.


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cups peeled and diced celery root
  • 3 cups vertically sliced sweet onion
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, tipped, split, and germ removed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 qt. lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (2-inch) strip lemon zest
  • About 1/2 cup cubed French bread
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives

Nutrition Information

  • calories 112
  • fat 3.9 g
  • satfat 2.5 g
  • monofat 0.8 g
  • polyfat 0.2 g
  • protein 6 g
  • carbohydrate 14 g
  • fiber 2 g
  • cholesterol 15 mg
  • iron 1 mg
  • sodium 278 mg
  • calcium 55 mg

How to Make It

  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over low heat.


  3. Add the celery root, the onion, garlic, and thyme to the melted butter. Tumble. Cover and raise the heat to medium-low.

  4. Sweat the vegetables for 25 minutes.

  5. Remove the lid, and add the chicken broth, salt, and the lemon zest.

  6. Bring the soup to a steady simmer, reduce heat, and cook, covered, for at least 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are quite soft.

  7. Remove the lid and carefully pull out the lemon zest with a pair of tongs.


  9. Ready a blender or, preferably, an immersion blender.

  10. Add the bread to the soup. Stir with a wooden spoon. It's the 19th century, remember?

  11. In mere seconds, the bread will have broken down into the soup. Now, being extremely careful, blend the soup until silky smooth: Use an immersion blender right in the pot or place about a quarter of the mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Drape a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend in small batches until smooth, pouring into a large bowl.

  12. Repeat procedure until all of the soup is well blended. If you've used a traditional blender, return the soup to the pot.

  13. Stir in the buttermilk and heat the soup over medium-high heat until very hot.

  14. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with crème fraîche and chives.

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