I often see the same vegetables in ethnic markets over and over, and while I’m always intrigued, I sometimes put off buying it because I don’t know what to do with it. But, eventually, I give in to my curiosity. I say to myself, “I’ll figure it out.” And that was the case with Chinese celery.
Chinese celery looks a lot like regular celery, except that the stalks and individual ribs are longer and thinner, and they’re a lot leafier and generally a darker green. Flavor-wise, Chinese celery tastes like very intense, bitter celery. It’s almost never eaten raw.
While I like raw celery, I’m not a big fan of cooked celery. But I am a fan of celery soup, so that’s what I decided to do with the Chinese celery I bought. I used a basic puree soup method and in lieu of cream, I added short-grain rice as a thickener.
Celery, in general, is good for lowering blood pressure, helping with rheumatism, and digestive problems, and it’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants. And since it’s low calorie, low carb, and virtually fat free, it’s ideal for pretty much any diet plan. This recipe is healthy and delicious. Give it a try.
Chinese Celery Soup
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1 ¼ lbs. Chinese celery
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dry thyme
6 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup short-grain rice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash the celery and drain in a colander. Cut off the leaves and place in a bowl.Chop the ribs into 1/2-inch pieces. You can leave the really thin pieces long.Heat the oil in a medium saucepot. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.Add the thyme and sauté another minute.Toss in the chopped celery ribs and continue sautéing until they’ve softened, about 5 minutes.Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the rice and bring to a boil again.Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pot partially, and let it simmer until the rice is cooked. If necessary, add more broth or water. Stir in the celery leaves and salt and pepper.Cover the pot and let the leaves cook down. When it’s done, transfer half the soup to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Carefully pour this out into a large bowl. Add the remaining soup from the pot into the blender and puree. Combine with the soup in the bowl. Taste it and adjust the seasoning to your liking.Serve hot, or pour all of it back into the pot to keep warm until you’re ready to serve it. The soup will thicken as it sits. If you have leftovers, you may need to add additional broth or water to it when you’re heating it up. Stir it in well.