After a short period of mild weather, we’ve been hit with another cold snap. Thankfully though, it’s been accompanied by clear(ish) skies, watery gold winter sun and the odd snatch of birdsong which I don’t mind so much. When the skies are leaden and the rain is lashing down, the cold seems to seep not only into my bones but into my mind as well, and I become an apathetic dollop of a woman who only wants to crawl into bed and pull the duvet over her head. Which isn’t convenient when you’re running around after a boisterous almost-toddler. When the weather turns cold, I start to yearn for thick, hearty soups and comforting stews served with creamy mash and dark green vegetables. There’s something about soup-making which makes me feel like I’m providing for my family in a way that is different to when I just chuck some (gluten-free) fishfingers under the grill. It must appeal somehow to my inner cavewoman… I used to feel the same way about baking bread (which I don’t do anymore). My attempts at gluten-free breadmaking have been, thus far, unqualified flops and I usually just buy commercial brands instead. I give it a try every now and again but I’m so downhearted by the results that I resolve not to try anymore. Until the next time.

Anyway, back to thick and hearty soups. This recipe is just such a one.  I bought a celeriac last week to make a rémoulade to go with my recipe for smoked mackerel, watercress and horseradish fishcakes (recipe coming soon!) but didn’t actually have the rest of the gubbins in the fridge to make it. So it’s been sitting there on the worktop, looking at me beseechingly whilst suffocating under its clingfilm, giving out tantalising wafts of savoury celery every time I go past. I had to do something with it. Celeriac and potato soup by itself seemed a little dull as a lunch offering so I whipped up a crunchy topping of smoked bacon, parsley and garlic breadcrumbs to adorn it. It worked.

Gluten-free celeriac and potato soup with smoky bacon, parsley and garlic crumbs

Serves 4 as a light lunch

1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
230g celeriac, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes*
330g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
2 rashers of smoked bacon
30g gluten-free breadcrumbs
¼ tsp garlic granules
handful flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sweat the onions over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and translucent but not coloured. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring up to the boil. Add the celeriac and potatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender to the point of a knife. Remove from the heat and liquidise. Check the seasoning and keep warm.

Meanwhile, grill or fry the rashers of bacon until they are crisp (this should take about 5-10 minutes). Crumble or tear into large pieces and place in a food processor. Place the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet under a hot grill and toast until golden brown (this should also take about 5-10 minutes). Add the breadcrumbs to the food processor along with the garlic granules and the flatleaf parsley. Pulse until well-combined and a more-or-less uniform ‘breadcrumb’ texture.

Serve the soup sprinkled with the crumbs.

* Just a tip if you’ve not worked with celeriac before. It tends to go brown very quickly. As I’m preparing it, I chuck it in a saucepan of cold water with a quarter of lemon in it. Seems to work.

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