Celery Root Puree with Jamón Serrano Crisps

I did a little spring cleaning in my refrigerator and channeled Grandma Mary to come up with this light, tasty lunch. The base is made with celery root which has been used in ayurveda for treating high blood pressure, digestive weakness, inflammation and bacterial infections. It stores well in the vegetable crisper, so I always keep it on hand. This recipe can be made vegan by simply omitting the Jamón Serrano.

Makes 2 Servings
Gluten-free, Soy Free, Dairy free

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled, pressed
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
¼ cup white wine
1 large celeriac (softball size ~10 oz), scrubbed, peeled, chopped
½ cup red lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
1 small sprig of tarragon
3 slices Jamón serrano
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Soup: In a medium pan over medium heat, warm the sunflower oil. Add the onions and garlic; sprinkle salt on top. Sauté for one minute; deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the celeriac, red lentils, tarragon and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until celeriac is soft (about 20 minutes).

Jamón serrano: In a small fry pan over medium-low heat, place 3 pieces of Jamón serrano. Cook for a few minutes on each side until crisp. Remove from pan and break into large pieces. Set aside.

Plate: When the soup is done, remove and discard tarragon sprig. Transfer to blender and purée. Stir in lemon juice. Ladle into serving bowls. Top with Jamón Serrano and serve with gluten-free whole-grain seed toast.

About:
Celery root (or celeriac) is a gnarly looking light brown root vegetable which resembles a large turnip. It tastes resembles strong celery and parsley and texture of potatoes. I often use it as a substitute for potatoes in soups. “Celeriac” is not the root of the leafy “celery stalks” vegetable. They are members of the same plant family (Apium graveolens), but celeriac is cultivated for its root instead of for its stalk or leaves.

Medicinally, celery contains phytochemicals and has historically been used to treat high blood pressure, digestive weakness, inflammation and bacterial infections.

Jamón serrano is a type of dry-cured Spanish ham similar in taste to Prosciutto but a bit more salty (and generally less expensive). Vegans can omit this dish and it is still quite balanced. The combination of the celery root with the lentils makes a nutritious, high protein vegetarian soup.

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