Celeriac or celery root is a knobby member of the celery family. Quite frankly, it’s a pretty ugly looking veggie, but don’t let that fool you. As it’s name implies, it has a wonderful almost pungent celery flavor. It is low in carbs, and is often used raw in winter salads, sliced very thin and julienned, added sparingly to flavor to soups and stews and to liven up and lighten up mashed potatoes. In this quick and easy vegan chickpea soup, it is the star. When cooked slowly, celeriac becomes sweet, and is a perfect partner for nutty chickpeas. Lemon juice adds a little zing. Stir in the bright taste of gremolata before you eat and you’re all set.
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat in a 5 quart dutch oven. When it starts to ripple, add the onion and the bay leaf. Stir to mix then cook 1 minute. Add ½ the peeled lemon zest, sprinkle with salt. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the onion starts to soften 5-10 minutes, they should not brown.
2.Add the celery root and stir to mix. Sprinkle with a little more salt and cook partially covered for 5-8 minutes, stirring from time to time until the celery root starts to soften at the edges. Add the whole garlic cloves and enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Add the chickpeas. The soup should have the consistency of a soupy stew so if needed, add more water to cover. Cook another 20 -25 minutes or until the chickpeas are heated through and the celery root can be mashed easily against the side of the pan.
4. Meanwhile, make the gremolata: on a board, roughly chop the parsley. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and lay the remaining lemon zest on top. Chop the zest into the parsley. When the herbs are getting fine and blended, add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and continue chopping. Keep adding the remaining oil a teaspoon at a time as you chop until you have a slurry. Scrape into a small bowl and stir in any remaining olive oil. Taste for salt and set aside.
5. When the vegetables are soft, stir in half the lemon juice. If you like it more lemony add the remaining lemon juice. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in the gremolata, stir and taste for salt. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for 5-10 minutes to let flavors combine. Serve with wedges of lemon.
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