A comforting soup of simply celery and rice, flexible for multiple eating styles and cooking styles
I'm not a huge fan of celery, so when my regrown celery resulted in an overabundance in the garden plot [shown below with one of my garden assistants, Simon] I scrambled around looking for ways to enjoy it. Sure, I'm happy to stretch meat by adding chopped celery (and onions, carrots, peppers, or shredded squash) into my recipes for tacos, burgers, or meatloaf. But I wanted to try some other ideas. After all, celery from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share--or in this case from my garden--actually has a delicious CELERY flavor that I've never really tasted with store bought celery. Who knew? While scanning the cookbook shelves at the library I saw a recipe for celery rice soup. I didn't have any of the ingredients, other than celery and rice, so I didn't take note of the cookbook name, I re-shelved and moved on, but the recipe idea stuck with me.
Later in the week we were feeling run down, and celery rice soup seemed like a comforting idea. It was good enough that I made it again a week later. I've tried this with both yellow onions and leeks. I bet it would also be good with shallots, so any alliums you've got on hand--use them. We preferred this with chicken stock and chopped cooked chicken, but I could see taking it in a different direction--soy chorizo for vegetarians? It's fairly . . . I won't say bland, but I will say it's not crazy seasoned like Ma Po Tofu [I got a jar of Ma Po Tofu sauce in my Christmas stocking and I'm looking forward to trying it--with celery]. This soup is just nice, basic, easy, and no frills--good for warming your belly on a cold day. And good for using up an abundance of celery. Speaking of abundance . . . here's what I was dealing with when I made it:
|Onions are shown in this version, but I've made it with leeks as well.|
NOTE: I created this recipe to be gluten free through my choice of ingredients. Check labels to confirm that your products are also gluten free. Good sources for determining that your products are gluten free can be found here:
Celery Rice Soup (serves 8 to 12, and halves easily if you don't want to be overrun with soup)
cooking fat of your choice (I used about 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil)
3 cups chopped leeks (sliced longways, then chopped in half moons and rinsed first) or onions
pinch of salt
3 cups chopped celery
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (if your stock is unsalted, you'll need salt--see below)
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (I'd suggest a spicy soy chorizo as a vegetarian alternate)
½ cup cooked rice per serving (see Note below about blown out rice)
salt to taste before serving (a guide would be starting with ½ to 1 teaspoon)
In a perfect world I'd make this in a 5 quart Dutch oven, preferably a Le Creuset Cassis one, but in reality I chose to overfill a 3 quart saucepan (though it worked great when I halved the recipe). Use the pot of your choice, and preheat it over medium heat. Add the cooking oil of your choice, and when it's hot sauté the leeks until they begin to soften. Add a pinch of salt and the celery, stir to coat with fat, and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Pour in stock and protein, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in cooked rice, stir, and taste. You may want to add salt, or go nuts with Tabasco or something.
Slow Cooker option: sauté the leeks and celery in a skillet, then dump them into a slow cooker. Add the stock and protein. Stir, and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. When you're ready to eat, stir in rice and taste to see if you need to add salt. This also reheats well in the slow cooker if you're going to be out and want to come home to a bowl of soup--I used my little slow cooker's Keep Warm setting.
Note: I don't mind blown out cooked rice that has simmered in soup for a long time, but if you prefer your rice grains to retain their shape, add the hot rice to the bowl, and ladle the soup over top.