Green gamble

Back in Summer, when the virus was just something that was happening in China, we moved part-time to a tiny spot by the beach. I was exhausted, and the thought of walking on the beach seemed like heaven on a stick.

The other half of that equation was getting some great fresh, local produce to load up on vitamins and minerals.

My foodie sister had already alerted me to a new farm shop – the fabulous Goshen Country – very close by, and I made it my first port of call.

Almost the first thing I saw inside was a gigantic head of celery – and it was whole ones only, thanks very much. No halves. They’d planted hundreds off the back of the celery juice craze – but a few months later, the world had moved on, and celery was back to its usual bridesmaid status.

But this was the queen of celeries – a thing of awe.

I couldn’t not buy it. But then, what to do with it?

I love soup, so I thought it was worth a try. I know celery soup doesn’t sound exciting – but this soup is spectacular and worthy of a place on your table. I have served it relentlessly to people who were less than certain when I offered it. Celery? Soup? that sounds … boringly healthy. And like it would taste overwhelmingly of celery.

Oddly enough, none of those things is true. This version is thickened with raw cashews and I suspect that is the thing that makes the difference. I skip the potatoes completely, but a friend uses a mixture or cashews and potatoes. Do what pleases you, though I love the version that’s all cashews.

Many thanks to the Feasting At Home website for the cashews tip, and for the recipe. They add some pretty finishing touches, but I wasn’t fussed.

As a side note: I used to hate celery as a kid. At one stage when I was in my 20s, my mum went on the Scarsdale Diet – and the only thing I got from that experience that stays with me is that he said it didn’t matter if you liked a particular food or not, it was easy enough to convince yourself you did. It wouldn’t take long. And he was right. I tried that with celery and became a convert. I can’t say I loved it, but a nice fresh piece of celery became something I could enjoy , especially with some good dip.

Now that I know what REALLY fresh, good quality celery tastes like, I can h happily say I love it.

The version with a mix of potatoes and celery, pre-blending.

Celery soup

a head of celery, cleaned and chopped up. Use the leaves or not, as you please. 
one onion, chopped (or a leek, if you’d rather)
garlic (if you like garlic)
enough stock and/or water to cover
2/3-1 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped OR two chopped potatoes, OR 2/3 cup cashews and 1 chopped potato
3 bay leaves, fresh if possible
salt and pepper
touch of cayenne pepper

 

Heat the oil and gently fry it the onion and garlic. Don’t let it brown.

Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the cayenne. If you have time, let the cashews cook for maybe half hour before you add the celery, but it ‘s not essential.

Cook until soft. Remove one or all of the bay leaves, depending on your love of them. At the least I strip the centre stems out, but I usually keep at two of the leaves and blend them in. But that is for fresh leaves, I would suggest entirely removing dried ones.

Add a touch of cayenne (1/8-1/4 tsp) and blend thoroughly. Stick or blender, as you like.

I serve with a blob of goat’s cheese, and fresh crusty bread.

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