Cream of Celery Soup.
Drink: Fizzy Watter
Music: That weird keyboard version of Wachet Auf by J.S. Bach that Kenny Everett used to perform his mime sequences to.
1 head of celery, trimmed, washed and chopped
1 mild onion, diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 litre vegetable stock (I used Marigold Swiss Bouillon)
100 ml crème fraîche
A handful of parsley, chopped (some leaves left to garnish)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
It was a dark and stormy night. There was a head of celery lurking in the fridge, limply succumbing to old age and cold. There was half a pot of crème fraîche nestling beside it, threatening to become rimed with green mold. I hate throwing food away almost as much as I hate this spell checker attempting to transform crème fraîche into crime franchise. Do not add 100mls of Val McDermid. It will spoil the broth, y’ken?
The hatred of food waste is probably a hangover from a childhood spent pushing food around a plate in a disinterested manner whilst being reminded that “there are children starving in Africa”. The best comeback to this I heard recently was, “Well, send it to them, I don’t want it”. Wish I’d thought of that. Ah, l’esprit de l’escalier.
Anyway, my Mam was right. Wasting food is a terrible sin so whip it into a soup that you didn’t know you wanted until you made it. It will make all the more poignant your childhood bleatings about not having Findus Crispy Pancakes like everybody else when you remember you didn’t have a fridge in the house. Or a freezer, for that matter. What am I going on about? Who am I talking to?
Ah, there you are. So, remembering that celery is a negative-calorie food (it’s not the chewing, it’s the digesting, apparently) you can make this soup with a clear conscience and a smug grin.
Making soup is so easy it seems almost insulting to provide the method, but I better had in case any bumba-clarts are attempting to sieve the stock or grate the crime franchise. There it goes again, the intolerable ARSE of a mechanism.
Eating soup is a different matter. I was once in a fairly classy restaurant with my then girlfriend and some friends of hers I had met for the first time that night. Desperate not to commit any faux pas or breach the etiquette of such an occasion, I took pains to select the correct spoon, tipped the bowl and dipped my spoon. Raising it, there was a lull in conversation as I pursed my lips and instead of merely blowing, I whistled at the soup, projecting it all over the table. We broke up soon after. And to this day, I have never eaten another crouton.
Prepare the celery, onion and garlic. Melt the butter in the oil in a large pan. Sweat the veg for fifteen minutes or so with the lid on, stirring occasionally to alleviate the boredom.
Add the stock, stir, replace lid and simmer for fifteen minutes or until the celery is soft.
Using a hand blender, whisk until smooth. Check and alter seasoning. Look out of the window at some sparrows and a dove.
Add the (easy now) crème fraîche and blend again. Stir in parsley, et voila. Ton potage, mon brave. It’s equally nice warm or chilled, depending on which season the North of England has inflicted upon you.