Chunky Celery Soup

Note: as part of my new year house keeping, I realized this post, originally drafted more than a year ago, never quite made it to the blog.  That’s a shame because if you don’t know about this ah-maz-ing celery soup, you are definitely missing out.  It’s one of those dishes we return to again and again. (I just finished the last bowl from the most recent batch; time to make another!)  Enjoy!

We awoke Saturday morning to a dreary day.  Originally we had planned to pick between two art events and a food showcase to pass the afternoon.  But all but one of the outdoor events were canceled; it turned out that this was apropos for the day.   Kirk was slow to rise in the morning and dragged through our trip to the gym.  After we returned home, enjoyed a scrumptious brunch of eggs scrambled with sauteed mushrooms, low fat apple muffins, fat, sweet grapes and sausage (turkey for him, Morningstar for me), he still didn’t feel better and took to the sofa.Originally I’d planned to prepare the enticing Broccoli Cheddar Soup from 101 Cookbooks.  But creamy soups and head colds don’t mix.  Kirk wanted “a vegetable soup withe rice or pasta or something.”  As I have been meaning to try a recipe from this gorgeous site, I picked author Heidi Swanson’s Chunky Celery Soup instead.

It’s really a treat to find a vegetable soup that puts celery front and center – and doesn’t start with “cream of.”  This well-composed variety featured perfectly prepared veggies.  The kind that, as Kirk was quick to point out, are still recognizable and don’t collapse into a mushy mess in the broth.  While the author offers up the celery leaf pesto as a recommended addition to the soup, I’d venture to say it is essential.  This delightful topper adds a monumental dose of celery flavor to the dish.  Next time (and there will be a next time) I plan to mix some toasted walnuts into the pesto to complement the nuttiness of the wild rice.

As an aside, it’s terribly embarrassing to post my photos of this charming soup knowing that you can (and should) follow the link to the original post.  If you enjoy eye candy in the form of food pics, 101 Cookbooks is a great source.  I imagine the light in Heidi’s kitchen to be always soft and perfect with a gentle pervading quiet in contrast to my nearly windowless room that is always filled with the noise of animals enthralled in the cooking process.

Chunky Celery Soup

The recipe author suggests a pesto composed of one cup of celery leaves, one large clove of garlic, approximately 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil.  I chose to double the garlic and, as noted above, would be curious to experiment with the addition of toasted walnuts.


1 large onion
1 large russet potato
3-4 small -medium carrots
10 medium-length stalks of celery, washed well
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cups of lightly-flavored, great tasting, vegetable broth (or water)
2 cups cooked wild rice, brown rice, barley, or wheat berries

1/3 cup celery leaf pesto (optional, but see head notes)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)


Chop the onion, potato, carrots, and celery into pieces that are about 1/2-inch or smaller. Do your best to cut everything roughly the same size, this will keep cooking time across the ingredients somewhat uniform. You should end up with about 2 1/2 cups of chopped celery.

In a large thick-bottomed soup pot over medium high heat combine the olive oil, onion, potato, carrots, celery and a few big pinches of salt. Saute for about ten minutes or until the onions and celery soften a touch and expel some water.

Stir in the garlic and add the stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook for another 10 minutes or until the celery, carrot and potatoes are just cooked through – resist the urge to over cook them into mush.

Stir in the rice a few minutes before the potatoes and carrot are cooked though. Remove the soup from the heat and ladle into soup bowls. Top each with a generous drizzle of the celery leaf pesto (opt) and/or some Parmesan cheese.

Serves about 6.

Originally published on 101 Cookbooks.

2 comments on “Chunky Celery Soup

  1. Bridget
    January 2, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Do you think I could try this with white rice? Jim doesn’t like the other options. Like you, I love celery focus.

    • jennifervickers
      January 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

      Kirk thinks Jim should try the other rices (because he likes them) but I think you could definitely use white rice, or any hearty grain – maybe a farro blend would also be delicious.

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