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A simple Italian celery soup

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Blue Kitchen

(Read caption) Minestra del sedano, an Italian celery soup, is a handy use for leftover vegetables.

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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

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