I had high hopes for Joe Yonan’s “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” (Ten Speed Press, $24.99) when I picked it up. I love to tear through collections of side dish recipes in search of new ideas, and this has received praise from many in the food press. But I have to admit I was disappointed when I started leafing through it. I found relatively few dishes I wanted to make. Instead of showcasing the vibrancy of Kabocha squash, radishes or eggplant, the author has hidden their beauty under unappealing layers of starches, such as miso, tofu, flour, corn, potatoes and pasta.
The following soup recipe was an exception, and its flavors were as bold as Yonan advertised. Who would have thought that blue cheese and apple would serve as perfect partners for celery? Better still is the way Yonan features the cheese and the celery in raw and cooked forms. The raw apple provides a brightness and a crispness in every bite, while the pungent, unmelted blue cheese gives the soup a welcome earthiness.
Celery Soup with Apple and Blue Cheese
1 stalk (about 1 1/2 pounds) celery with leaves
2 large shallots, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt or low-fat yogurt (see note)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outside stringy layer from the ribs of celery and discard or reserve for making vegetable stock. Combine the ribs and any leaves, the shallots, stock, one of the apples and 1/2 cup of the blue cheese in a soup pot over medium-high heat, stirring to submerge the solids as much as possible; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the liquid is gently bubbling. Cover and cook until the celery and apples are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree until smooth, or transfer to a blender or food processor and carefully puree, working in batches if necessary. If you want to eat it cold, cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate until well chilled.
Stir in the yogurt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among individual bowls (or store the remaining soup). Top each portion with the remaining chopped apple and a tablespoon of the blue cheese, and serve.
Editor’s note: I didn’t have yogurt on hand, so I substituted 1/2 cup of heavy cream instead. It worked well.
This soup will freeze well.
Makes 4 servings.
From “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” by Joe Yonan