I don’t normally eat things that look they’ve been stuck in the back of my fridge for a month. I decided to give celery root, or celeriac, a try anyway. It’s pretty nutritious and everyone says it makes a great addition to a healthy diet. Hard to believe since it looks like something my cat could have coughed up.
Celery root is used a lot as a potato substitute. It has less than half the calories of a potato and one third of the carbs (reference). However, nutrition wise, a cup of baked potato has about twice as much fiber, three times as much vitamin C, three times as much potassium and about the same amount of phosphorus. You’re only cutting calories and carbs by substituting celeriac, not adding nutrients. Celeriac is just less dense, with a higher water content than a potato. That’s helpful if you’re trying to lose weight, but not if you’re just trying to eat better.
One cup of celeriac has 1.5 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbs, 42 calories and 1.9 grams of fiber. Vitamin C – 5.6 mg, Potassium – 268 mg, Phosphorus – 102 mg
One medium baked potato has 4.33 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs, 161 calories and 3.8 grams of fiber. Vitamin C – 16.6 mg, Potassium – 926 mg, Phosphorus – 121 mg
Since this furry cousin of celery is a root vegetable I’ve always passed at the store and never thought twice about. Today, I decided to purchase one and be brave.
Picking out a celery root is not that tough, if you can get past the hairy exterior. You want one that’s firm, has no fleshy or soft spots and looks uniform in color. Like a lot of vegetables, smaller ones don’t taste as woody as the large ones.
I had a problem at the checkout. The young guy ringing up my groceries looked at it and then to me and said, “What is this?”
“It’s celery root, or celeriac. I’m not sure what it’s listed under.”
“Oh. Is it supposed to look like this?”
“Well, I think so. They all look like that.”
He finally figured out how much to charge me. Celery root is more expensive than a potato. The one pictured above was $3. You can sometimes buy a whole bag of potatoes for that.
To prepare celery root, you have to wash and peel the skin. I tasted a piece raw. The raw piece had a strong celery flavor, but when I sampled a cooked piece I barely detected it. I hate raw celery. This was actually much nicer. It has the flavor of celery but a nice, clean texture. It’s more like a turnip in texture, which is so much nicer than the stringy celery plant.
I think I could like this vegetable.
For my first experience in celery root, I decided to make a very plain soup. I like my first sampling to be pretty plain. I just used made my favorite leek soup, but used celery root instead of potatoes.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Olive oil to coat pan
- 3 leeks (cleaned and chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large celery root (peeled and cubed)
- 3 cups of chicken stock
- 2 cups of water (or to taste)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ½ cup whipping cream
- Heat stock pot with butter and olive oil. When heated, add leeks and cook for a few minutes before adding garlic. Cook until translucent.
- Add stock and celery root and simmer for about an hour. Check the celery root like you would a boiled potato. If you can pierce it with a fork, it’s done.
- Puree in a blender or use a stick blender until the desired consistency. I used my Vitamix. If the soup is too thick, which it probably will be, you can add the water (or add more stock if you want to). Season to taste.
- Add the whipping cream and put the soup back in the stock pot. Reheat gently on low heat.
I really liked the soup. It’s said celery root tends to take the flavor of what it’s cooked with, and this tasted as good as any leek soup I’ve ever had. Leek soup generally uses potato as a base, but leeks are such a powerful flavor. I always taste the texture of the potato more than the flavor. I can imagine spicing the soup up would make it even better. Also, if you really wanted a low fat soup, you could leave the whipping cream out.