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From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite…
I began the effort to “green” my kitchen several years ago. One of the areas I knew needed to be addressed was the amount of waste I generated as I prepared and cooked our meals. I began with an honest evaluation of food that was purchased and never used, or food that went bad before it could be used. I also took a look at leftovers that spoiled before they made it back to our table. The first thing I addressed was “right sizing” the number and size of portions I prepared for our meals. Recipes were sized to feed two or create planned leftovers. The harder part was identifying the true waste lurking in the refrigerator. For whatever reason, my vegetable crispers always held some food that seemed destined for the garbage can. I was especially bad with things like green onions, peppers and celery. It took some doing, and a lot of planning, but I eventually got to the point where what was purchased was eaten. Celery was my biggest problem. I would use a stalk or two but had no plan to use what remained. At one time I had the same problem with carrots. I solved that by searching out recipes that would finish the bunch before week’s end. While it was harder with celery, I used the same approach and eventually found ways to use it. This light and simple soup is one of the recipes I use to make sure that my celery doesn’t go to waste. I like, whenever possible, to add chopped fresh fennel to the soup pot along with the celery. The flavors are compatible because they come from the same plant family. While it’s listed as an optional ingredient, celery salt adds enormously to the flavor the soup. As you scan the ingredient list you’ll see that this is a perfect vegan meal. The soup can be table ready in an hour. It is too light to serve as a dinner entree, but it’s perfect for lunch or a first course and it’s great for company. You’ll find that the celery is too stringy for an immersion blender to do its job. It really is best to use a blender or food processor and then strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve. The flavor of the soup improves as it sits, so I try to make this a day before I plan to serve it. Here’s the recipe.

Celery Soup…from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

3 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
1-1/2 cups diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 large baking potato, cut in 1/2-inch dice to yield 2 cups
10 stalks of celery, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice to yield 6 cups
1 small bulb fennel, trimmed, core and chopped (optional)
5 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar vinegar
1 teaspoon celery salt (optional) or table salt to taste
1 large pinch pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Celery leaves for garnish

1) Place oil or butter in a soup pot. Add onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2) Add potatoes, celery and fennel (if using). Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
3) Puree soup in batches using a blender or food processor. Pass puree through a strainer, pressing solids with the back of a spoon.
4) Return to a clean pot. Add pepper and celery or table salt. Stir in cream if using. Bring soup to a simmer and keep warm over low heat until ready to serve. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

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