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Recipe: "Braised" Celery Soup with Bacon

By

Recipe:
Dave Scantland
This is a great soup to make when you have a lot of celery in the crisper drawer and don't want it to go bad. Inspired by a recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking for braised celery, it's a delicious change from the typical cream of celery soup. For a heartier version, try adding crumbled cooked Italian sausage or just increase the amount of bacon.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • Kosher salt
  • 5-6 ribs celery, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup diced tomatoes with their juice (about half a 15-ounce can)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (low sodium or regular)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup celery leaves, roughly chopped (optional)

Preparation:

1. In a medium sized pot, fry the diced bacon over medium low heat until it's crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan. Turn the heat up to medium.

2. Add the onion to the pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a few minutes until the slices separate and start to soften. Add the celery and cook, stirring, for a few more minutes. Increase the heat to medium high.

3. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until most of the wine has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and chicken stock.

4. Let the soup come to a boil, then reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and keep it at a simmer for 40 to 60 minutes, or until the celery is very tender but not falling apart. Adjust the salt (you'll probably need about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt if using low-sodium stock; 1/4 teaspoon if using regular) and add about 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.

5. Right before serving, stir in the celery leaves, if using, and sprinkle with the reserved bacon.

Notes:

  • While freezing this soup will turn the celery to mush, you can make it a day or two before serving and keep it refrigerated. Just leave the cooked bacon in the soup and top with additional bacon to serve if you like.
  • Refrigerate the leftover tomatoes and use later in the week in salsa, easy tomato sauce or this delicious braised chicken recipe.
  • This is a really easy soup to double if you like leftovers -- you'll end up using almost all a head of celery, a whole can of tomatoes and a quart of stock.

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