Celery Root and Pear Soup 5.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Jan 22, 2014

There's a whisper of cardamom in this elegant winter soup.

The prosciutto garnish is optional but makes for stunning visual presentation; its saltiness helps cut through the soup's richness.

Make Ahead: The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 week. You might wish to add a little more cream to the soup as it reheats (over medium-low heat), stirring to overcome any separation.

5 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 5-6 servings; makes 5 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 or 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 pounds Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, for garnish


Melt the butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed soup pot over low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until quite soft, stirring frequently to make sure the onion doesn't pick up color or caramelize.

Wrap the bay leaves, thyme and cardamom in cheesecloth and tie tightly with twine to make a sachet, or place those ingredients in a tea-ball infuser. Lightly crush the sachet with the flat side of a chef's knife, then add the sachet or infuser to the pot.

Increase the heat to medium; stir in the celery root and 1/2 cup of the broth. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery root is almost cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the diced pear for garnish (wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate), then stir the remaining diced pear into the pot. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the solids are quite soft.

Stir in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of broth, all of the cream and the salt; increase the heat to medium-high. Once the mixture just starts to boil, turn off the heat. Discard/remove the sachet or tea-ball infuser.

While the soup is cooking, line a small plate with a paper towel.

Place the prosciutto in a small, dry nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until crisped. Use tongs to transfer it to the lined plate to drain and cool.

Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth in a blender with the center knob of its lid removed (so steam can escape; place a paper towel over the opening). Puree a bit longer than you're used to, so the soup's as smooth as possible. Taste, and add salt as needed.

Divide among individual bowls; crumble some of the prosciutto over each portion and garnish with the reserved diced pear. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from Jonathan Seningen, executive chef at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw in the District.

Tested by Jane Black and Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.