Celeriac Soup with Apple and Chestnut

Read­ing Paul Auster’s nov­el The Brook­lyn Fol­lies, I col­lided with a dis­turb­ing idea. Accord­ing to Auster’s thwarted char­ac­ter Tom, we’ve entered a new era, an era of the ‘post-past age.’ Tom elab­or­ates that the ‘post-past’ means ‘The now. And also the later. But no more dwell­ing on the then.’

Could that be true? Are we so dis­lo­cated from any­thing that’s gone before that we have no choice but to stare fix­edly ahead and wait for what’s com­ing? What kind of cyn­ic do you think I am? Of course I don’t agree with that notion and neither, I sus­pect, do you. At this time of year you need only go to a child’s nativ­ity play, or flick through an old cook­ery book to find the recipe that your moth­er swore by for Christ­mas tur­key, or attend a Remem­brance Day ser­vice, or go to a Thanks­giv­ing party, as I did last week. And then you will know that the post-past is a fic­tion dreamed up by people who favour the smart remark above the truth.

And just in case you need a little more per­suad­ing, here is my recipe for celeri­ac and chest­nut soup, a divinely fra­grant con­coc­tion that I first ate when I was a child. As far as I’m con­cerned, the post-past is dead. Long live the pre-present.…

Celeriac Soup With Apple and Chestnut

Serves 6

2 table­spoons extra vir­gin olive oil

1 floury potato

1 medi­um onion

1 gar­lic clove

I whole celeri­ac, peeled and cut into chunks

I litre veget­able stock

100 ml double cream

100 ml full cream milk

100 g vacu­um packed cooked chest­nuts

2 Granny Smith apples

Truffle oil

Cut the potato, onion, 1 apple and celeri­ac into chunks and slice the gar­lic. Soften the onion gently in the olive oil for five minutes, and then add the potato, gar­lic, apple and celeri­ac. Don’t allow the veget­ables to brown. Sea­son and con­tin­ue to cook gently for anoth­er five minutes and then add the hot veget­able stock and sim­mer for twenty minutes. Pur­ee with a stick blender before stir­ring in the cream and milk. Reheat the soup, but don’t let it boil. Adjust the season­ing. Break the chest­nuts into smallish pieces and saute briefly in a little olive oil. Cut the second apple into the finest juli­enne — (don’t peel the apple — the flash of green at one end is good). Serve the soup with a scat­ter­ing of chest­nuts, a sprink­ling of apple and a cir­cu­lar drizzle of truffle oil. Eat your soup like the Roman god Janus, facing back­wards and for­wards at the same time. And let’s have no more talk of the post-past.

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6 thoughts on “Celeriac Soup with Apple and Chestnut

  1. Entirely agree about the post-past but con­sum­ing soup like Janus would seem a bit of a stretch, but then he must have had two mouths. Soup looks good enough for my single one. When I cook celeri­ac I nev­er seem to be able to exclude those little woody bits so I ima­gine the young­er the root the bet­ter.

  2. Hi Jakey
    The secret is to be bru­tal when you’re peel­ing the celeri­ac — just chop all those twiggy bits out, rather than attempt­ing to peel round them.…

  3. I was 35 years old before I saw celeri­ac for the first time and chest­nuts is some­thing only avail­able for spe­ci­al­ity stores in tins.
    Just shows, your past is my future!
    Soup looks beau­ti­ful.

  4. Hi Charlie
    Lovely recipe — will give it a go. Yes­ter­day we cooked chest­nuts on the stove-top for the first time — over­done, but still very good. Very easy — just soak the whole chest­nuts in hot water for a bit then put them on a met­al dish and cov­er with foil and stick them on top of the cast iron stove. We left them for two hours but I think one hour would be fine — depend­ing on your stove. I doubt any­thing bad can hap­pen but prob­ably best not to go out while they are on there. Last Xmas Eve we set fire to the sit­ting room after stu­pidly put­ting wood all along the sides of the stove.
    Is your boil­er still on the blink?

  5. Hi Fer­gus
    The chest­nuts sound deli­cious. I just wish I wasn’t snowed-in, oth­er­wise I would be straight round to try them out. The boil­er is back on the straight and nar­row — just as well in the cir­cum­stances. x

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