Celeriac and Quince Soup

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Recipe courtesy Bruce Naftaly, Le Gourmand
from Edible Seattle March/April 2010

This soup is very creamy though there is no actual cream. The celery root is miraculously rich and you will get some extra flavor from mineral impurities in the sea salt. Chef Naftaly suggests adding cognac to bring out the flavors, but it is not necessary.5581801478_ac9d21f083_b

4 tablespoons butter
4 leeks, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1 1/2 pounds quince, cored
4 pounds celeriac, peeled and cut into small 2-inch chunks
4 bay leaves
8 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch watercress, fat stems trimmed off
Sea salt to taste
Cognac to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the leeks and continue cooking and stirring for five more minutes. Stir in the shallots, stirring more frequently for four minutes. Add the quince, celeriac and bay leaf to the pot all at once, blending into the onions and cooking for several minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the soup with lid ajar until all ingredients are very soft, about 60 to 70 minutes. Add watercress and cook 20 minutes more.

Remove the soup from the heat and purée soup in a blender in small batches, starting at low speed to avoid spraying the hot liquid out of the blender. When all soup has been puréed, strain using a fine mesh strainer and season with sea salt to taste. Add a splash of cognac to the soup, if desired. Serve immediately in shallow bowls.

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