Happy Meatless Monday! Celery is one of those veggies that most people see but don’t really think much about. It is often served at parties as part of a vegetable platter or used to transport peanut butter as a snack. Health conscious athletes use it as a post recovery electrolyte replacement beverage, while others enjoy it at brunch in a bloody Mary. However you enjoy it, celery is more than just a simple green stalk of low calorie crunch, it is a powerhouse of nutrition that is good for your health.
Celery, as we know it in the produce section of the grocery store, is known as Pascal celery. Its origins date back to the Mediterranean region.(1) In its wild from it was used by ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for ornamentation, for its medicinal properties, and as a condiment.(2) Archaeologists have found celery in ancient Egyptian tombs, and the Greeks believed celery to be a holy plant, they even wore necklaces of it at their Nemean Games.(3) Today there are two main types of celery; the self-blanching or yellow celery (a recent hybrid) and green or Pascal celery. In North America most people prefer the green variety. In Europe and other locations self-blanching varieties are more prevalent.(4)
What’s in it?
Celery is a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.(5) But its “claim to fame” in terms of antioxidant nutrients may very well be its phytonutrients. Many of these phytonutrients fall into the category of phenolic antioxidants and have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory benefits.(6) These anti-inflammatory benefits can help reduce blood-pressure by relaxing the blood vessels and allowing them expand.(7)
Celery Potato Soup
Now that your appetite has been stimulated by all that talk about the history and nutritional benefits of celery, let me introduce you to one of my favorite recipes – celery potato soup. This soup is easy to make, is a perfect cold weather meal, and most of all it tastes great! As always I recommend that you use organic ingredients preferably from a local farmers market where possible.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch celery with leaves (about 2 pounds)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/2 cup white cooking wine
- 2 medium russet potatoes – peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 5 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- Trim ends from the celery but keep the leaves, reserving a few leaves for garnish. Slice celery stalks and leaves into 1-inch pieces; transfer to a colander, rinse and drain well.
- In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery and leaves, onion, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes and stir every few minutes until the celery is soft but not browned. Add wine to deglaze the pan and cook for about 2 minutes until most of the wine has evaporated.
- Add potatoes, vegetable broth, and water, heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and let simmer until the potatoes are tender or about 10 minutes.
- In batches, ladle into a blender and puree to a creamy texture. Pour puree into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed.
- Return soup to the stockpot and serve sprinkled with a little black pepper and garnished with celery leaves if desired.
This will make about 12 servings. Any unused soup can be frozen and reheated – I personally think it tastes better the next day. Please let me know what you think about the recipe – thank you.