Celery and parsley come from the same botanical family and naturally are a complimentary pairing for endless applications. The recipe that follows is all about the clean refreshing flavors of celery and zesty flat leaf parsley. Serving this soup chilled is the perfect beginning for almost any summer meal.
There are many varieties of celery available worldwide. Pascal celery is the variety most cooks are familiar with in the west. It has slender ribbed stems with an abundance of green leaves at the top. Colors can range from white to deep green depending on age and soil conditions. Blanched celery, meaning shielding the celery stems from sunlight while growing, produces a nearly white celery with a refined flavor and tender crisp texture. Most western cooks us the celery stems almost exclusivly while the leaves, with a stronger flavor, are usually discarded or used for flavoring soups and stocks, as well as raw as an accent in salads.
Chinese celery, not to be confused with cilantro, is found all over Asia. It has very slender round hallow stems with feathery pale green leaves at the top. Generally the stems and leaves are both used in Asian cooking as the flavor less assertive than western celery. I have used Chinese celery for this recipe as blanched celery is rarely available in Thailand.
Wild celery, which grows in marshlands, has been mentioned in early texts of the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks who considered it an herb used for flavoring as well as in medicinal remedies.
Flat leaf parsley, also called Italian Parsley, is the parsley of choice for most cooks these days for its robust flavor and colorful character. It has been widely used throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East since ancient times. Loaded with vitamins and minerals and best used raw or added to cooked dishes towards the end of cooking time to preserve its flavor and nutrients.
Chilled Celery & Parsley Soup Serves 6
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cups diced young celery (or Chinese celery)
- 1 cup finely chopped celery leaves
- 2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 quart hot chicken broth or water
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt + more to taste
- a few twists freshly ground white pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped broad leaf parsley leaves
- ½ cup whole milk
- Greek yogurt or sour cream
- sprigs fresh broad leaf parsley sprigs
Prepare the soup the day before you plan to serve it as it is best when well chilled.
Place a soup pot on the stove over medium low heat. Add the butter and olive oil. Swirl the pan until the butter has melted into the olive oil and add the onions. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes or until they soft and translucent, stirring from time to time so the onions do not brown.
Stir in the celery and celery leaves and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook another couple of minutes. Add the hot chicken broth and stir. Once the broth begins to boil lower the heat to a simmer, add the salt and pepper, and cook, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Add the parsley and cook another 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the stove and rest for a couple of minutes. Then, using an immersion blender( or blender), blend the soup until smooth.
Put the pot of soup back on the stove and bring back to a boil.Promptly lower the heat to a simmer. Stir in the milk and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Taste and add additional salt to your liking.
Transfer the pot of soup to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
Then transfer the soup to a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Ladle the soup into individual bowls and add a dollop of Greek Yogurt (or sour cream) in the center of each serving. Garnish with fresh broad leaf parsley sprigs.