Winter Soups Take Root

Curtis Stone, the Post’s new food columnist, bestselling author, and host of My Kitchen Rules, rises to the occasion as temperatures drop with savory, seasonal meals in a bowl.

Creamy Celery Root Soup looks unassuming because of its pale creamy color, but each spoonful is full of flavor. Photography by Ray Kachatorian

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Curtis Stone
Photography by Ray Kachatorian

When I walk in the door on a bone-chillingly cold winter’s day, I enjoy hunkering down in front of the fireplace with a piping hot bowl of homemade soup or stew to warm body and spirit.

No matter what the season, my cooking philosophy is this: Keep it simple and cook with naturally produced, seasonal ingredients, just as Mother Nature intended. If you use the right ingredients at the right time of year, it’s hard to go wrong.

The beauty of soups and stews is that the combination of seasonal ingredients you can pile into recipes is infinite. During the winter months, veggies like carrot, parsnip, potato, cauliflower, celery root, and fennel are in season and cook up beautifully in soups and stews, softening in flavorful broths on the stovetop.

I have two restaurants and two little boys, so life is pretty busy in the Stone home right now. That’s why now more than ever, make-ahead meals like soups are a real lifesaver for my wife Linds and I. There’s nothing better than the delicious aromas of homemade soup or stew wafting through the house while the family is puttering around on a Sunday ­afternoon.

What’s great about Weeknight Navy Bean and Ham Soup is that you can make it with dried beans but without the usual 12-hour presoak, becoming a wholesome meal you can enjoy any weeknight — thus the name. Though it may look unassuming, Creamy Celery Root Soup is a favorite in the Stone household. Each spoonful boasts a rich texture and wonderful flavor reminiscent of celery and parsley — sure to win the whole family over.

Creamy Celery Root Soup

(Makes 8 servings)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots
3 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Creamy Celery Root Soup looks unassuming because of its pale creamy color, but each spoonful is full of flavor.
Photography by Ray Kachatorian

In large heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add celery root, broth, milk, cream, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and salt and bring to gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer very gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes, or until celery root is tender enough to mash with spoon. Remove from heat and remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Working in batches, using slotted spoon, transfer celery root and shallots to blender (preferably high-powered one) and blend until smooth, adding enough of cooking liquid to form smooth and creamy soup (you may not need all of liquid); return pureed soup to pot and rewarm over low heat before serving. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with chives, and serve.

Make-Ahead: Can be made one day ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Rewarm, covered, over low heat, adding more broth if necessary.

Per serving
Calories: 205
Total Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Sodium: 665 mg
Carbohydrate: 21 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 7.6 g
Diabetic Exchanges: ¼ vegetable, ½ low-fat milk, 1 ¾ fat

Weeknight Navy Bean and Ham Soup

(Makes 8 servings)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces 3/4-inch-thick sliced cooked smoked ham (such as Black Forest), torn into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 pound dried navy beans or other small white beans,picked over, rinsed, and drained
5 cups water
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Photography by Ray Kachatorian

In 8-quart pressure cooker, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add ham and sauté for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and sage and sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add beans, 5 cups water, and broth. Lock pressure cooker lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low to stabilize pressure and cook 40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to subside on its own, about 20 minutes. Unlock pressure cooker and remove lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape. Beans will be very tender. For thicker consistency, coarsely mash bean mixture. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Make-Ahead: Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Rewarm, covered, over medium heat, adding more broth if necessary.

Per serving
Calories: 284
Total Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Sodium: 593 mg
Carbohydrate: 38 g
Fiber: 10 g
Protein: 19 g
Diabetic Exchanges: ½ vegetable, 2 ½ starch, ½ lean protein, 1 fat

Feeling under the weather? Try Curtis’ “Homemade Chicken Soup Makes Me Feel Better” recipe, featuring kohlrabi, celery root, and turnips, available at

Excerpted from Good Food, Good Life by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2015 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or printed without permission in writing from the publisher. Photography by Ray Kachatorian. 

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