Soup and Salad for Cold Nights

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When the winds blow and the windows rattle, what’s better than a hot bowl of soup, a salad, and some hot crusty bread?  Here is a flavorful soup with an item many people don’t know what to do with – celery root.  It’s a rather ugly and scary-looking root, but so delicious.  Give it a try!  The easy salad and is made ahead of time to be ready when you are.  Round off the meal with some warm whole wheat bread or rolls, and soon you will be nice and warm no matter what Mother Nature is dictating outdoors. 

Celery Root, Onion, and Potato Soup

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups sliced onions
1 cup sliced leeks, white part only
1 teaspoon salt
4 medium bulbs celery root (about 2-1/2 pounds)
Lemon juice
2/3 cup pared and sliced potato
3-1/2 cups chicken stock or water
1-1/2 cups milk
Pinch of ground mace
1/2 cup heavy cream
Unsalted butter and chopped fresh parsley

1.  Heat 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat in a heavy, large Dutch oven.  Add onions and leeks; sprinkle with salt.  Toss vegetables well to coat with butter.  Cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. 
2.  Meanwhile, prepare celery root.  With a sharp knife, pare off and discard skin and any blemished areas.  Quarter bulbs; drop into bowl of cold water containing a few drops of lemon juice to prevent discoloring.  Cut each quarter into thin slices; return to acidulated water.
3.  When onion mixture is tender, add drained celery root, potato, 3-1/2 cups stock, milk, and mace; stir to combine.  Cover; heat over low heat to simmering.  Let simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, 45 to 60 minutes.  When done, skim off any foam that rises to surface.
4.  Place a colander over a large bowl and drain soup, reserving liquid.  Puree solids in batches in blender or food processor, making either a coarse or smooth puree, whichever you prefer.  Whisk puree back into the reserved liquid.
5.  Return puree to rinsed Dutch oven.  Whisk in heavy cream.  Heat to simmering and taste for seasoning.  Thin, if necessary, with stock, water, or milk, as you prefer.  Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.  Ladle into warm soup bowls.  Add a thin slice of  butter to each serving for added richness; garnish with parsley.  Serves 4 to 6.

Easy Make-Ahead Romaine and Watercress Salad

6 Tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
2 to 3 Tablespoons finely minced green onion with some tops included
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 head romaine, outer leaves discarded, shredded into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
1 large bunch watercress, stemmed (about 2 cups)

1.  Whisk oil, lemon juice, and mustard in glass salad bowl until thoroughly blended and smooth.  Add green onion, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste; whisk until well blended.  Let dressing stand at room temperature or in refrigerator for 2 hours.  Prepare greens and chill.
2.  Just before serving, rewhisk the dressing.  Add romaine and watercress; toss.  Sprinkle generously with fresh cracked pepper, if desired.  Serves 6-8.

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