To me, the best recipe is the one that uses food that is local, and in season, grown and produced by people who care about what they are doing. How else do you get that freshness and flavour? How else do you feel aligned with the yearly cycles of work and nature; in tune with the weather and the seasons as you cook and eat? In July, when I started this blog, light salads and dishes made with the long-awaited asparagus and strawberries were the best. Now the best recipes are ones that keep the kitchen, the body and the soul warm with long slow cooking and rich flavours that make you happy to snuggle inside, or give you the energy to get outside and engage the icy elements.
However, after some consideration, I have decided to re-post Cream of Celery Soup, which did not get nearly the attention during the year which I think it deserves. I don't know that I can say it's my best recipe, but it is certainly excellent, and exemplifies my attitude to food: simple food is the best food, if it is made with love, attention and good quality ingredients. (And, psst! I think it would make a great first course to a dish of Macaroni and Cheese!)
4 to 6 servings
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time
1 large bunch celery
1 large onion
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups ( 1 litre or 1 quart) chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dillweed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup light cream
Wash and trim the celery, and chop it, leaves and all. It can be somewhat coarsely chopped; it's going to be puréed. But first it's going to be sautéed, so don't chop it too coarsely. Likewise peel and chop the onion.
Melt the butter in a large skillet, and sauté the onion and celery for 5 to 10 minutes, until they are soft and limp, but not browned. Sprinkle the flour over and cook until well absorbed and lightly browned in spots; a few more minutes.
Meanwhile put the chicken stock in a large pot with the bay leaves and dill. Grind the remaining spices as finely as possible, and add them as well. Add the celery and onion mixture. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the celery is very tender.
Purée the soup in batches that will fit into your blender or food processor, then return the soup to the pot. Mix in the cream, and reheat the soup until steaming hot. Do not let it boil or even simmer, or the cream will likely curdle. Serve at once.