peppery celeriac & pancetta soup

Danger soup! I wanted to make a particular recipe out of The Zuni Cafe cookbook for some friends, but the seasonal veg (asparagus) was, well, out of season. I messed around with the idea, keeping the pancetta and rice and stock part of the recipe, and wound up with a soup that's quite yummy and nutty in flavor. It reheats nicely for lunches later. You should feel free to play around with the veg, and post what you find!

Time from start to serve: less than an hour.

1 small onion (i bet leek would be good, too)
chicken or veggie stock
1/3 cup arborio rice
1 ball of celeriac
a few slices of pancetta
fresh ground pepper

sugar snap peas
fresh basil, chiffonade
toasted pine nuts
parmesan shavings

0. Slice the root ball off of your celeriac, and cut off the skin. Cut into 1/2-inch dice. Chop the pancetta into 1/2-inch pieces, too. Set aside.
1. Dice your onion. Small, as it's going to wind up in the soup exactly as you chop it.
2. Gently sweat the onion until it's translucent in a touch of olive oil or butter. (5-6 minutes, medium-low heat.) Grind in generous helping of pepper.
3. Add the arborio rice & 6-7 cups of stock. Turn up the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. (You want the rice to cook through and start falling apart.)
4. While the broth & rice simmers, start sauteeing the pancetta. When it started to give up some fat, drop in the celery root. Sautee over medium-high heat until the celeriac is browned and crisp on the outside, and soft and cooked through in the middle. Salt to taste, and grind in a generous helping of pepper, as well. If you finish before the broth and rice is ready, just turn off the heat and let the mix sit.
5. When the rice is soft, scoop in the celery root and pancetta. Add the basil, if using it. Simmer for one minute to let the flavors meld. Taste & adjust salt & pepper. It should have a kick. If you want to use snap peas, toss them in for the one minute of cooking.
6. Ladle into bowls and garnish with toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan

Variations & notes: I threw in a few tablespoons of soy creamer when reheating this for lunch, and it made a fabulous creamy soup, as well. I don't think i'd use the basil if i were using the snap peas. Vary your stock so your soup is the right amount of brothy - celery roots come in lots of sizes, so vary the stock appropriately.

Posted by shock on January 31, 2004 | TrackBack
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