salt crusted celeriac soup

Celeriac can be a scary vegetable but in season at the moment and not expensive. Salt crusting it and baking it without any preparation (no peeling – just washing and then drying) – adding the salt crust /baking and then adding the cooked vegetable to simple soup WOW!!! Spectacular flavours!
This recipe was designed by Des Harris and made for 8.2 restaurant in Auckland’s Birkenhead. Serves 4-6.


1 large celeriac (washed and then paper towel dry – DO NOT PEEL)
3 eggs whites
700g salt (not iodised)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Sea salt
50g butter
3-4 cups vegetable stock
Milk or cream to finish (optional)
To serve: 1 tbsp freshly roasted walnuts, chopped and 2 Tbsp apple sauce for each large bowl.
Walnut oil for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180degC. Wash the celeriac and trim if necessary and dry with paper towels.
2. In a bowl combine the egg whites lightly beating with a whisk (but just combine you are not making meringues!). Add the salt till it forms a stiff paste – you may not need all that salt – it will depend on the size of the egg whites.
3. Cover the celeriac completely with the paste making sure there are no gaps, use your hands. Bake in the oven for a minimum for 2 hours (no harm if left longer – say up to 3 hours).
4. Take hot celeriac and crack open with rolling pin and brush off excess salt form the cooked vegetable.
5. In your stockpot cook you onion, garlic and rosemary on a slow heat in a little olive oil. You want translucence and not colour. Do not rush this stage.
6. Add salt and butter, drop in cooked celeriac and top with vegetable stock. Cook for a few minutes, then liquidise and pass through a sieve and adjust with milk or cream or before serving. Check seasoning again prior to serving.
7. To serve place a little pureed applesauce in the bottom of the bowl with a few chopped freshly roasted walnuts and top with the hot soup. Drizzle a little walnut oil on top prior to serving.