As the first trimester nausea lifts and I resume consuming the things I once loved (welcome back, Earl Grey!), I need to resist the urge to shun the now innocuous fruits and vegetables that so recently made my stomach jump up into my mouth. Yes, it’s been a delicious ride consisting on nothing but pasta, ham and cheese croissants and tuna sandwiches but I’ve got to be smart. I’m eating for two, not in quantity but in quality. Would I feed my newborn rubbish like cupcakes and macaroni and cheese? Actually, yes, I probably would. But that’s not the point.
This hit home a few days ago when, out of the blue, about one third of my wisdom tooth broke off into my mouth. Apparently, this is not uncommon during pregnancy, and, though I’m no neonatal specialist, my gut reaction tells me I need more calcium or vitamins or something.
So I turned to my sister, apprentice midwife extraordinaire, who has lots of opinions on this type of thing. I even managed to keep that food diary I mentioned alive for a few days so I could send it to her and be verbally chastised. While she was perfectly pleasant and appeasing (“sure, you can have pasta all the time as long as it’s whole wheat and you throw in a huge bunch of kale and another of chard…” I forgot the rest: she lost me at whole wheat), I knew she was concerned, especially after my mother called me the next day and said maybe I should lay off the white bread.
Despite my reservations, and my lingering dislike of any fruit that isn’t a big, cold navel orange, I decided to give vegetables a serious go. The other day, in fact, I made a huge eggplant ragù, kind of like this one, and ate it over 2 nights on pasta. Sure, I ate one pound of pasta in one sitting, but at least there were lots of vegetables thrown in. Right?
Ok, maybe I was going about this wrong. But I’m going to do better. I went to the market yesterday and bought a whole ton of vegetables I’d normally walk right past – celeriac, radicchio, something with a Chinese name. And tonight? I decided to make myself some celeriac soup.
Nutrition-wise, the day didn’t start out so well. For breakfast, I went to my favorite cafe with one of my favorite neighbors and had one of my favorite breakfasts – thick slices of French toast with buttery mascarpone, grilled banana, and bacon, all soaked in maple syrup, washed down with a virgin mary. As I was eating a lemon cupcake for afternoon snack, I realized how awful today’s entry would look in my food diary. Sister would be so disappointed. Tapeworm, too. Not to mention my teeth.
So I promptly pulled out the celeriac, the big, ugly celeriac, a potato from the fridge and an onion from the bowl on the counter. I peeled and chopped everything, threw it into a big pot with some olive oil to cook for a few minutes, then covered the veggies with broth and cooked it all, covered, for about 25 minutes. Then I used my handy-dandy hand-held liquidizer, and pureed that shit. I grated in a ton of black pepper (though white pepper would’ve been classier, considering the white soup), a couple big pinches of salt, and tasted. Decent, I thought, but something’s missing.
So I opened the fridge and leaned in, peering into the cold. And there it was: heavy cream. Just a glug or two, and this soup will be perfect. I instinctively reached out for it, but then I stopped. Sister. Mother. Tapeworm. Tooth. I needed to make them proud.
After another minute, I found what I didn’t even know I needed: Dijon mustard. I plopped in a tiny bit and stirred it around, tasted, added a tiny bit more, tasted, and, after four or five additions, had got it just right. You can’t even taste the mustard, it just adds the tiny bit of sweet and hot. The celeriac is nutty and, yes, tastes a little like celery. But it’s hearty and wholesome and more complex than a simple potato soup.
I’ll have this with some croutons I just made, though it would be delightful with a drizzle of mustard mixed with heavy cream. But I think I’ll save that for next time. Tonight, it’s just me and vegetables. And it doesn’t taste half bad.
A vegan recipe! Gasp! That’s right, lovies, I am capable of not putting butter and cheese into everything I make. This soup is lovely on its own, and even better with croutons on top. You could serve it as a simple dinner with bread and salad or a first course. Either way, give celeriac a go.
Serves 2 – 4 as a main course / 6 as an entree
1 celeriac, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
salt & pepper
1 tsp (approx.) Dijon mustard
Throw the vegetables into a big soup pot and cover with broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and place lid about halfway on for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft enough to be pureed. Using a hand-held soup pureer, puree everything until totally smooth.
Add some salt and pepper, then taste to see if you need more. Add the mustard to taste. Serve alone or with croutons. Can be made a day ahead.