Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Easy Celery Rice Soup (with Slow Cooker option)

A comforting soup of simply celery and rice, flexible for multiple eating styles and cooking styles

Easy Celery Rice Soup (with Slow Cooker option) | Farm Fresh Feasts

Want to add more vegetables to your daily life? Do you think celery is underutilized in your kitchen? If so, read on for an easy soup--including a slow cooker option if you'd like to use that. This can be a vegetarian or omnivore soup--I've made it with vegetable stock as well as chicken stock--and appeals to my kids in a way that ants on a log never did. [Um, that's our term for a celery stick spread with peanut butter and dotted with raisins, just in case you were thinking I'm feeding my kids ants deliberately. Accidental ants I'm not responsible for.]

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.

Easy Celery Rice Soup (with Slow Cooker option) | Farm Fresh Feasts

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:

Easy Celery Rice Soup (with Slow Cooker option) | Farm Fresh Feasts


Easy Celery Rice Soup (with Slow Cooker option) | Farm Fresh Feasts
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.

12 comments:

  1. I have a recipe on my blog for an Italian celery soup, and the first time I made it, it was a revelation. Who knew celery could taste so good?

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    1. Lydia,
      Exactly--who knew! I knew tomatoes were better in the summer, but eating seasonally from the CSA just blew me away with the amazing flavors. I've got celery peeking up from the snow--so I'm glad to have your Italian celery soup to try with them.
      Thanks!

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  2. I am a big fan of celery but it's one of those polarizing veggies - a lot of people HATE it. This soup sounds good to me!

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    1. Alyssa,
      Cilantro is also a polarizing green--I'm a fence straddler as I think it tastes like soap and I like it anyway. Even though I'm not celery's biggest fan, I did like this soup.
      Thanks!

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  3. I left you a nice long comment last night, and Blog Lovin ate it. I'm pretty sure it was fantastically funny, and now you are stuck with tired and only moderately amusing Meghan instead. My bad or really Blog Lovin's bad.
    I am amazed you made a soup with celery as the star, although not completely shocked. Why the heck not? It's been a bit player for years so it's high time, celery became the center of attention. This is genius, and hopefully I will have enough celery to someday make it. Right now I've got a small amount in the fridge and I'm planning on turning it into a veggie dip along with his radish cousins, and do mean second and third cousins. I have a lot of radishes, and honestly I have no idea how they're still hanging on, but they are, so I've got to put them to use.

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    1. Meghan,
      I'd love to have enough artichoke hearts hanging out to make your stuffed artichoke soup, but alas they all get et up. Like the comments in Blog Lovin. Whatever that means . . . still need to learn all of this new fangled stuff.
      My radishes became a sandwich spread which was pretty good. And now they are gone! Hooray!

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  4. Celery is a great inexpensive ingredient, I love seeing it as the "star". I only like cooked celery, and soup is a perfect use for it. I've been trying to learn a little chinese cooking, and I believe the dish congee is essentially chicken soup with the rice blown out (and maybe a few other seasonings). But normally I like to keep the rice separate, and add it in later. And if the rice is cold, it actually cools down the hot soup for the kids.

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    1. Sherri,
      I'm grinning, thinking about you learning to make congee for your kid. It will be a wonderful comfort food for you all!
      Thanks!

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  5. Very cool idea! I'm also not the biggest celery fan (canNOT handle it eaten raw, even dipped in yummy stuff), but I always have leftover stalks that seem to go bad on me. So I pinned this, I'll try it sometime! I trust you. :)

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    1. Julie,
      I hide celery in taco meat and stews--anything I can stick it in--and I can get my kids to eat it that way.
      I'm kinda stoked to inspire trust in celery--so thanks!

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  6. huh. i ALWAYS end up with waaaaaaay too much celery. as you know, i have nowhere to grow my own veggies right now so i have to get it from the store. however, my particular grocery store doesn't sell celery by the stalk - and the few times i've tried to just rip one off, the cashier just stands there and stares at it like, "what do you want me to do with this?".... so, i end up with a massive bunch of celery when i only need a little. i now have a solution ;)

    Thank you so much for linking up with Fresh Food Wednesday! Have a great week - hope to see you this Wednesday with more fresh food posts! xo, kristy

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    1. Kristy,
      If I only need a tiny bit of a vegetable . . . trying to think of an example, but bean sprouts is the only thing I can think of . . . that are usually sold in larger quantities I usually hit the salad bar for that item. However, my composting pig gets any extra celery leaves that don't go into soup packs or salads.
      Thanks!

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