In trying to find a meal that would be both rich and delicate enough to suit my buttery croissants, I came across a cream of celery soup from Ricardo Larrivée, a French Canadian chef on Food Network Canada. I replaced the cream with buttermilk and used a freshly made batch of chicken stock. The original recipe also called for walnuts, but I prefer pecans.
Stock is easy to make and have around if you have a slow cooker. I keep two sizes, 3 quart and 5. I put the carcass of the bird in the suitably sized slow cooker, add a little coarse sea salt and whole peppercorns, just cover with water and let cook on low overnight. By morning, I just use tongs to lift out the larger bones and sieve the rest over an 8 cup pyrex measuring glass. (More if making a large batch) Let cool and seal in plastic containers and freeze or use within a day or two. This long cooking method gives a rich, gelatinous stock. I no longer add any other veggies or herbs to the starter stock, more flavourings can be added when you use it for a soup or stew.
Cream of Celery Soup with Pecans and Blue Cheese, adapted from Ricardo, Weekend Cooking
1 leek, white part only, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
10 celery stalks, cut into pieces
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup long grain rice
1 cup spinach, trimmed
1/2 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
In a medium saucepan, brown leek in oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
Add celery and apple and cook for another minutes.
Deglaze with wine and reduce for 1 minute. Add stock and rice and bring to a gentle boil.
Reduce heat and cook uncovered over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Add spinach and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Transfer to blender and process or use and immersion blender. Return soup to saucepan and add buttermilk. Stir and reheat without boiling.
Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, garnish with pecans and cheese.
Pairs nicely with croissants and white wine!