Yesterday was my first day back for my fifth season at Eastern Market. My director of operations and baking, Nancy, and I arrived to set up at 8:00 AM. We popped up the tent, attached the skirt to the front tables and lit the propane stove to make some stock for creamy celery and leek soup. Then it all went wrong.
The tent tried to blow away. While we chased it in one direction, the tables, with the skirt acting as a sail, blew over in the other, nearly taking the stove with them. Undeterred, we took down the tent, set the tables back up, sans skirt, and started again.
By this point it was so raw and wind that my fingers hurt holding the knife. The carrots I chopped for stock were blowing off the cutting board and the onion skins I threw toward the bucket below never came close, borne off down the street on the brisk breeze.
But Nancy and I are hearty, Polish, New England folk. We persevered. The first dish presented potatoes and cheese curds, fried in pancetta fat, over arugula. Next up was a wild rice, apple and oyster mushroom salad, followed by butter lettuce and fennel in a Cara Cara orange vinaigrette.
In the end, it wasn’t the cold or the wind that did us in, but the propane tank, last used in our final demo of 2014, that sputtered out, completely empty, under a pot filled with onions, leeks, potatoes and celery, intended for a pot of creamy soup. That’s when we threw up our hands and headed home for hot showers.
I did, however, save the pot, and, back in my own kitchen, put it on the stove. Once softened, the ingredients were puréed smooth and finished with cream, butter and rice wine vinegar. The result? I’m warm and happy now. We’ll see you next week.
Creamy Celery Leek Soup
The amount of rice wine vinegar may seem high, but it has very mild acidity. We tried finishing it three different ways. As is, the soup is creamy and mild. Dried chervil brings out the celery flavor, while dried summer savory gives it a bolder taste. We loved all three.
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 leek, rinsed and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups thinly sliced celery
- 2 medium red potatoes, diced (I’m way too lazy to peel them, but if you want a slightly smoother soup, go ahead!)
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbs butter
- 3 tbs rice wine vinegar
- Celery leaves, chopped, for garnish
Optional: add 1 tsp dried chervil or summer savory
- Warm olive oil in a 4 quart soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes.
- Add leek and cook 5 minutes longer. Add garlic, celery and potatoes, and
cook 7-10 minutes.
- Add stock and simmer, partially covered, 15-20 minutes, until potatoes
are mashable with a fork.
- Purée soup in a blender and strain back in to soup pot through a mesh sieve. Return to medium heat. Add cream and stir through.
- Season to taste with 1-2 tbs butter, vinegar and salt and pepper.
- Serve garnished with celery leaves.