Celeriac and smoked haddock blend beautifully in this velvety soup, which can be eaten as a main course or a starter. It’s luxurious but not too heavy. Perfect, I would suggest, for Christmas Eve.
I’m a big fan of celeriac. This knobbly root looks so unprepossessing but its celery-like flavour is surprisingly delicate. The pearly flesh and subtle taste of undyed smoked haddock works so well with it. The soup, inspired by one from Matt Tebbut, doesn’t need anything more than some good bread on the side.
You can pre-make the soup and cook the fish and then warm them through when you want to eat – please see the recipe for details. You’ll need the oven pre-heated to a low setting to finish the dish.
Happy Christmas to you all and thanks for your support and comments over the past 12 months. See you in the New Year!
Celeriac and Smoked Haddock Soup
2 fillets of undyed smoked haddock
500ml milk, whole or semi-skimmed + extra milk/water
Celeriac, approx 700g
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
8-10 black peppercorns
Salt and pepper
250ml double cream
2 or 3 tbsp finely chopped or snipped chives
Put the fish in a wide lidded pan, add a bay leaf and the peppercorns and clamp on a lid. Bring to a boil on a moderate heat then remove from the stove and leave to sit, still covered, while you prep the veg.
Peel and chop the onions. Peel the celeriac and cut into 1.5cm dice. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and add the onion, sprinkled with a little salt, and the second bay leaf. Cook gently for 8-10 minutes until the onion is softened but still uncoloured. Add the celeriac, stir well, and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
Remove the fish from its pan with a large spatula and put on a plate. Strain the milk into a jug and add enough water (or water plus extra milk) to bring the volume to 1 litre. Pour this into the celeriac pan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until you can squash the celeriac against the side of the pan.
Meanwhile, remove the skin from the fish and check for any bones. Break into large flakes. Ten or 15 minutes before you want to eat, put the fish in a heatproof bowl and cover it with foil. Warm in a low oven (about 140C/120 fan, 275F/Gas Mark 1) along with your bread, also wrapped if necessary..
When the celeriac is done, remove the bay leaf and blend the soup until velvety smooth. Add the cream and chives. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick for your taste, thin with a little extra milk.
Ladle the soup into bowls and pile big flakes of the smoked haddock in the middle. Eat straight away, with the warmed bread.