In the Bay area, if it dips under 60 degrees, we pull out the scarves and beanies. I’ve been donning my fingerless gloves for weeks and am wearing out my hoodie (hood up, thank you). Our place doesn’t have a working heater or a working fireplace though we have one of each. To stay warm and for overall high spirits, I drink copious amounts of tea and coffee. Then, I pile on the layers. On particularly cold days, the oven cranks onto a balmy 375, which makes my challah rise to the happy climes. Recently we made an excursion to Philadelphia. That city won me over in a big way a few years back and claimed the spot of favorite food city of 2014, narrowly being edged out of its spot in 2015 by Los Angeles and its booming bold flavors of any kind of cuisine imaginable.
While in Philadelphia, we sported winter coats. Hats with ear flaps. Mittens. And on a few occasions, we may have ducked into stores we didn’t really have any intention of perusing had the wind not picked up into the soul-crushingly cold temperatures. We ran up the Rocky steps, or more accurately, I ran up the Rocky steps. I quickly learned that detail alone separated the chump out-of-towners from the townies like opening an umbrella in Seattle gives you away in an instant. Two days at the museum meant two chances to eat incredibly good pizza in the name of it being within walking distance.
If I had to qualify my favorite thing to eat, anything wrapped in a fresh, hot corn tortilla would take the top seat and perhaps surprisingly, homemade soup would nab the silver spot. I love sweets more than I should, but I could eat soup everyday and not grow bored. Homemade soup is one part revelation and another part Bay area and beyond winter survival tactic. I created this soup with the specific aim in mind of cramming as much greens as possible into something that also tends toward being a little naughty. The bacon fat lends a nudge of meaty flavor to a veggie-filled soup. I won’t be mad at you if you make more bacon to crumble on top when you’re ready to serve it. Or, skip the bacon altogether and use veggie stock, letting it rain Parmesan on top as a garnish. Whatever you need to do stay warm in winter works.
Kale Celery Root Soup
MAKES 4-6 SERVINGS
3 pieces bacon, torn into 3 pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and medium chopped (1 cup)
1 green bell pepper, ribbed and medium chopped (1 ¼ cups)
1 small yellow onion, medium chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon
1 (10 ounce-sized) small celery root, peeled and medium chopped (1 ¾ cup)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 bunch kale, rinsed, ribbed and chopped (about 6 cups)
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup water
Fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon, placing on a plate for later use. Drizzle and swirl the oil into a stockpot. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Saute them for about 10 minutes or until mostly cooked, stirring occasionally. Stir in the celery root and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale, coriander, paprika, and Aleppo pepper, stirring for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock, water, and remaining teaspoon of kosher salt. Raise the heat to medium high. Cook the soup for about 15 minutes or until the celery root is fork tender. Puree the soup in batches. Crush the cooled bacon into bits. Serve with a drizzle of crème fraiche on top a la Jackson Pollock and a scattering of bacon bits.
PS- This soup would actually be pretty terrific with grilled cheese soldiers dipped into it.
PPS- And, if you happen to find celery root in the summer, it would make a fine chilled soup too.
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