Leftover celery teams up with chicken, carrots, tomato paste, and rice to become Minestra del Sedano, a satisfying meal in a bowl.
One of the things that bugs me about cooking is buying a fresh ingredient for a recipe, using only a little and later finding the withering remains in the fridge. It happens a lot with fresh herbs, I’m ashamed to admit. But for some reason, the thing that galls me the most is throwing out the wilted carcass of a stalk of celery from which I’ve only used a rib or two.
So recently, after using a couple of ribs of celery from a fresh stalk for a pot of chili, I was determined to use up the rest of it. My first thought was celery soup. Doing a quick online search, I mostly found various puréed versions. I’m sure they’re lovely, but I was in the mood for soup with chunks of stuff in it.
Then I came across a recipe for minestra del sedano, Italian celery soup, posted by my friend Lydia at Soup Chick. It called for about twice the celery I had on hand and fewer other ingredients (no chicken or carrots, for instance). I’m guessing with my tinkering, I’ve actually veered a good distance from true Italian celery soup. But I used up all the celery I had on hand, and we ate well that night. Again, not a holidayworthy meal, but a good one. Happy holidays, everyone. Eat well.
Italian Celery Soup
Serves 3 to 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into matchsticks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (5 to 6 cups)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups water (plus more, if needed)
2 bay leaves
1 piece of rind from a Parmesan cheese wedge (optional)
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese