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Celeriac, sage and walnut soup

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Our French friends recently commented that hot soup features on British menus all year round whereas in France it is considered a winter dish. Who wants soup on a hot summers day, they asked? I had never noticed before but it’s true – regardless of the month or weather you can always order soup. Perhaps we British just love our soup more than the French, or maybe it rarely gets so hot here that soup would be too much?
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Either way, I’ve recently been enjoying this celeriac, sage and walnut soup. Although Dave has decided that celeriac is not for him, I love it and JP is also a fan. It’s smoky almost meaty taste is different from other vegetables and combines so well with bacon. If you want that something extra for dinner guests, add butter-fried sage and serve with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.
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Celeriac, sage and walnut soup

2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1kg celeriac, peeled and chopped into 2 ½cm/1” cubes
220g bacon – 6 rashers, chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Optional
60g chopped walnuts
8g sage leaves
25g butter

Serves 5
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 25 minutes

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, when the oil is hot fry the onion with the lid on for five minutes. Add the bacon and continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent and the bacon is cooked. Add the celeriac and cook for another three minutes.
2. Add the stock and simmer until the celeriac is tender, about ten minutes.
3. Once the celeriac is cooked take the soup off the heat and blend it. (I tend to let the soup cool before I blend it, so I don’t have boiling hot soup potentially flying about, but this isn’t necessary.) Once blended add more hot water to the soup if you want a thinner soup and then season well.
4. Dry fry the walnuts in a small frying pan. Remove the nuts from the pan and melt the butter in the same pan. Add the sage leaves and swirl the butter around in the pan covering all the leaves. Fry until fragrant. Pour the leaves and butter onto some kitchen roll to absorb the excess butter. Put the soup into bowls and scatter the sage leaves and walnuts over the top.

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