A silky and comforting celeriac soup, with apples and thyme as normal service continues here at Natural Kitchen Adventures.
So you may think, as a health food chef and blogger January would be the best time of year to SHOUT REALLY LOUDLY about my healthy recipes, my app and cooking events that I offer as part of my company?
Well, no more than at any other time of year. To be honest I’ve felt a bit drowned by my social feeds being filled with healthy new year messages this last week, and have wondered what my response to this should be? My approach this time of year is just the same as it is the other 11 months of the year. Try my best to eat a balanced healthy diet, drink more water, stress less, sleep more, and seek out my absent exercise mojo (where did you go???). I don’t need an internet health guru to tell me this, nor do I profess to be one.
I really don’t believe in diets or detoxes, and I think the message is thankfully finally getting through that this isn’t the way (read this book if you need persuading). In fact I have turned down cheffing on detox retreats and teaching detox cooking classes in the past, as they don’t sit well with my ethos of aiming for small achievable and lasting changes rather than drastic measures.
It’s taken me a long time to learn to be happy with what body I’ve been given, I’m almost there. I punished myself in my 20s, cutting out fat, followed by carbs, and over exercising so much that I experienced amenorrhea (lost periods) when I dropped a little more weight than I should have. The curves came back over the last 4-5 years, without me really realising it. This was around the same time I trained as a chef and no longer had the energy to punish myself in the gym. It also tied in with the stress of my Mother passing away, along with the rise of the smart phone meaning I find it hard to switch off from work – which was responsible? Truth is that I was no happier as a size 8 than I am now, a healthy 34yr curvy size 12-14 girl with a balanced attitude to all foods, and I’ve recently realised that my continual clothes shopping frustrations are mostly born out of my 5ft 3 frame, not what it’s filled with.
I want people to acknowledge that eating well isn’t about achieving a perfect figure. I want people to improve their diets for their health first. For example, more veggies to make your skin glow, to keep you well, give you more energy, to feel better in your own mind, and to sleep better. I am pained when I hear friends of mine whom are much slimmer than me talking about dieting to slim down, the focus feels all wrong.
Likewise, we should learn to exercise for the same reasons. I know I am a work in improvement on this one!
So this January, it’s business as normal here, with maybe just a few less desserts than I offered in December. Starting with this soup.
Celeriac makes wonderfully creamy soup, and with a touch of apple to sweeten. It pairs well with hazelnuts which I’ve used in my topping. Serve a small portion as a starter (as I have done on yoga retreats this last year), or a more hearty portion with bread for dunking for a light lunch or supper.
The key to making homemade soup sing is homemade stock, and perfect seasoning. I realise that homemade stock may not be feasible for everyone so concentrating on getting the seasoning right is key. Once blended have a good taste, and see what you can do to improve the flavour. If it needs brightening add lemon juice, too bland add salt, needs depth a pinch of nutmeg can work wonders, too sour add a drizzle of olive oil.
The perfect way to ease gently into normal service this January.
- ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
- for drizzling
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 celery rib, finely diced
- 1 celeriac, peeled, diced roughly
- 2 apples (I like Granny Smith), peeled, cored and diced
- a few sprigs of thyme, reserving some
- for decoration
- 750ml hot vegetable stock
- 250ml almond milk (or other dairy free milk)
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, juiced
- toasted hazelnuts to finish
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Over a medium heat cook the onions and celery in a pinch of salt until softened, which should take about 5 minutes.
- Add the celeriac, apples and leaves from a few springs of thyme and cook for 2–3 minutes. Next add the stock and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes until the celeriac is fork tender.
- Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a few minutes to avoid burning yourself with hot splashes of soup, then pour into a jug blender or blitz with a hand blender until silky smooth. Add the almond milk, season with salt and pepper and blend again. Taste and if needs brightening add a bit of lemon juice at a time of for more flavour add a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Return to the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.
- To serve, spoon the soup into bowls and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of toasted chopped hazelnuts and some thyme leaves.
This recipe originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Superfoods Magazine. 3