The Market Report

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celery_root.jpgLaura Avery
chats with Chef DJ Olsen, from Lou Wine Bar in Hollywood, about making a soup from celery root. This ugly, crenelated tuber is related to celery but is not the root of the celery you eat with peanut butter.  It has a very subtle flavor so Chef DJ makes a soffrito or base for the soup.  Then he adds a lot of peeled celery root and adds a bit of water -- not stock.

Celery Root-Fennel Soup
Makes 5 quarts
Keeps 3 days, tightly sealed, refrigerated

Soffrito Base
12 ozs fennel bulb, cleaned of bruises, dirt; rough julienne (core OK)
6 ozs leek, white part only, 1/8" crosswise slices
3 ozs shallots, peeled, rough julienne
6 ozs peeled King Edward (or Yukon Gold) potato, large dice
1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 bunch Italian parsley (2 ozs)
1 Tablespoon whole fennel seed
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
Pinch ground cayenne
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Main Vegetable
3 1/2 lbs cleaned celery root (exterior of bulb completely trimmed away to solid white core; no dirt)
5 quarts filtered water
Fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 Tablespoons-plus)
Kosher salt, to taste (1 Tablespoon-plus)
2 Tablespoon crème fraîche (optional)

1. Place soffrito ingredients in small rondeau; stir until oil covers everything evenly
2. Heat to medium low; cover rondeau and sweat vegetables, stirring occasionally, until tender (10-15 minutes)
3. Wash trimmed celery roots of any residual dirt
4. Cut roots lengthwise into quarters
5. Cut quarters crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
6. Place pieces in rondeau with sweated vegetables
7. Cover with 5 quarts filtered water
8. Bring to a light boil
9. Boil until celery root is tender, 20-25 minutes, skimming skum as it forms on the surface
10. Once celery root is tender, blend in batches, 2 minutes at a time, until batches are smooth, creamy looking
11. Season finished soup with lemon juice, salt, to taste
12. For added richness, whisk in up to 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
To serve, heat 8 ounces serving in sauté pan. Pour serving into pre-heated soup bowl. Drizzle a few lazy circles of finishing quality extra virgin olive oil atop soup surface. Garnish with finely minced parsley.

Shop at the supermarket for a lemon and you'll pay $1.25 each. Go to the farmers' markets and you can get them for $1.25 a pound.  Farmer Jeff Reiger from Penryn Orchard Specialties explains the many forces causing lemon prices to go up.

Jeff Reiger is known as a persimmon grower. He preserves the Japanese art of hochigaki, the practice of air-drying whole persimmons and daily massaging them in order to create a delicious sugary treat.  You can order they directly from Jeff, by going to his website.

Music break: Multiplex by Ben Neill