Ahhhhh...The promise of spring. New flowers beginning to pop up, poking just above the soil, searching for sunlight. There's a warm quality to the light despite being bitterly cold, and I cannot wait for spring to arrive. I do love all the seasons in their finest glory, but when it's a cold drab wintery day, soup and bread has to be made. I'll post the bread recipe next time as Mr. Bee is a bit busy so we only have time to write this one up today.
I am STILL waiting to find the perfect gluten free bread recipe, so once I find it, perfect it and like it, I'll post it.
So...What kind of food do you turn to in winter? Stodge? Processed crap? I'm not a fan of beige food. You know the sort: Breaded, battered, burned, beyond recognition, bleurgh.
I like eating cleanly. That doesn't mean using a fresh knife and fork and plate - although you really ought to - just sayin'.
To eat clean, means to eat fresh, it means no processed food. No caffeine, no sausages, no burgers unless you make them yourself. Now, as a vegetarian-trying-to-go-vegan, and I'm also gluten free, I thought I'd find it really hard eating well, but the opposite has happened.
After another breakdown in 2012, I realised I had put weight on. This isn't a bad thing as I wasn't overly big, but with sore joints, extra weight can cause additional problems. So, I ate as well as I could, but the weight didn't shift. I can't exercise - please don't ask me to try - I used to dance, I know what I can and can't do - and felt very upset, despite eating what I thought would nourish me and help me to lose weight, nothing was shifting.
Until I gave up meat.
I lost about one stone in a year, but still felt too big. I went over all my old vegetarian recipe books, and lost about half a stone, but when we set our date to get married I had a word with myself and said enough was enough. I'd heard about Juice Plus, a meal replacement system where you have two Juice Plus shakes a day, and one clean meal. No catches, it works. I'll do a post about that another time as I want to concentrate on the soup. The thing about Juice Plus though, is you HAVE to eat clean or it won't work. You learn a new way of cooking, and understanding what food can do for you. Which leads me to the soup recipe.
While learning about clean eating, I discovered the Paleo diet. Now, I don't go a whole bundle on diets as such, I believe in sensible weight loss without starvation.
Thankfully, the Paleo diet is perfect for me as it's gluten free, and the only restrictions are no gluten (so no bread or pasta) no rice and no potatoes no dairy I think eggs are allowed though. HOWEVER, you CAN use sweet potatoes. And there are tons of recipes out there if you want to try it. It's essentially like a cave man diet, no processed food! There's no starving, no pills, no potions. It's just good, clean, real food. Lots of veg, fresh meat (if you choose to eat meat) and fruit. Your skin will clear up, the weight will come off and you will be full, and you'll be laughing at yourself because it's so easy and delicious.
Mr Bee HATES peeling Celeriac as much as I can't even pick it up. So I asked him to chop off the knobbly bits, poke it, rub olive oil all over it, wrap it in foil and it was left in the oven on 160c for several hours (!!!) to slow roast. Now, while the house smelled amazing, it took a long time to cook.
It was worth it, but think it would be cheaper energy wise if you are able to peel, dice and roast it.
You could microwave the entire thing if you wish as you would for a screaming swede, but it won't have the roasted flavour. I'm doing the recipe for diced, but you can slow cook the entire whole celeriac in a slow cooker if you wish, as all slow cookers are different, you'd have to experiment. I reckon it would take about 10 hours in a slow cooker, I have a Morphy Richards one and I think it would take 10 hours on high! Up to you.
I also used two King Edward potatoes in the recipe as Mr Bee Doesn't like sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes are Paleo; normal ones aren't.
YOU WILL NEED:
One big knobbly celeriac, the bigger the better, as a lot of it tends to be knobbles. Get two small or medium sized ones if you wish.
Two huge leeks
Two medium sized potatoes, you can use one very big sweet potato if you prefer.
One pint of preferably organic vegetable stock, the best you can afford.
A teaspoon of good olive oil for the leeks,
A tablespoon of good olive oil for the celeriac.
Pepper, and just a smidge of salt, but taste the end result before adding it!!
Mixed herbs, and a tablespoon of dried oregano.
I haven't added garlic as it gives me migraines, you may add a small piece with the leeks if you wish.
Preheat your oven to 200c, place a dry roasting tray into the oven to heat up.
Chop and rinse the leeks, peel and chop the celeriac and potatoes into one inch cubes.
Put the tablespoon of oil into a bowl with the cubed celeriac and mix well. Using a slotted spoon, carefully place the celeriac into the hot roasting tray and roast in the oven until the celeriac is soft, and beginning to look nicely roasted - this is your taste here. As long as it's soft and not black, it's done. It should take about half an hour to 40 minutes - ovens vary!
While the celeriac is roasting, heat the teaspoon of oil in the biggest pan you have on the hob, over a medium to low heat, add the chopped leeks and garlic if you are using it and soften the leeks, do not brown them. Use a lid if you wish to help keep some steam in. When the leeks are soft, add the potatoes and roasted celeriac (use a slotted spoon to minimise the oil) give them a good stir and add pepper to your taste. Add the stock and herbs, stir it and bring it up to the boil, then immediately turn down to a gentle simmer. Pop a lid on, then sit down for an hour while it cooks. We let ours cook today for about one and a half hours because I lost track of time, but it was lovely.
Once the potatoes are soft, really soft! Carefully take the pan off the heat and use a blender to get it to the consistency you require. PLEASE be careful here! Mr Bee kept the blender on low so it didn't splatter. You may want to add a splash of hot water from the kettle to loosen the consistency.
You can add just a touch of salt here if you wish, but not too much Ok? Taste it first.
Serve it in warmed bowls with a hunk of olive bread or gluten free bread, and if you feel particularly indulgent you can add a splodge of creme fraiche, but that's not vegan or waist line friendly. I think a sprinkle of pepper and chopped dill would be lovely on the top.
This quantity should serve four hungry people.
Celeriac has a sort of nutty, gentle celery flavour. I don't think it's used enough, even though it's gained popularity in recent years. If you're feeling adventurous, try a simple remoulade with it, a classic French dish:
(Not vegan unless you can use a vegan mayonnaise)
And I reckon it will take you nicely into spring.
*Shuts eyes to dream of breezy spring mornings and tulips bursting through the lawn*