Hi! My name is Susan Maslowski and, occasionally, I will be contributing to The Wild Ramp blog. I am a potter and I sell my utilitarian wheel-thrown stoneware at The Wild Ramp. I have been an avid gardener since moving to Cabell County in 1975 and recently completed Master Gardener certification in Kanawha County. I enjoy cooking using fresh local products. I write a food column for Metro Putnam and Kanawha Valley Neighbors, weekly Charleston Gazette supplements. The recipes are tested and photographed in my own kitchen before they go to print. From time to time, I plan to share columns that feature an item or items available at The Wild Ramp. This celery soup recipe is delicious, especially with the addition of Snowville Creamery crème fraiche. I am very excited to be able to share my love of cooking with you and I hope you will try some of the recipes.
Crème Fraîche: French-Style Cultured Cream
By Susan Maslowski
Developed in France, crème fraiche is a creamier version of sour cream.
Crème fraiche is not an ingredient that I keep on hand, although I always have a tub of sour cream in the refrigerator.
Crème fraiche is produced by adding a bacterial culture to heavy cream, which contributes to its tanginess. It does not contain added thickeners. Sour cream might have ingredients like gelatin, rennin and vegetable enzymes to stabilize it and make it more viscous.
Crème fraiche can also be made at home with heavy cream and buttermilk, but I’ve never taken the time to make it. It is allowed to stand at a certain temperature until it thickens.
This product is becoming more popular and easier to find at local supermarkets. I was delighted to find Snowville Creamery crème fraiche at The Wild Ramp recently.
Crème fraiche can be used interchangeably with sour cream in recipes, but there is a noticeable difference between the two. One advantage of using crème fraiche in cooked soups and sauces is that it does not break down or curdle, since it contains about thirty to forty-five percent butterfat.
Crème fraiche can be used as a topping for savory and sweet dishes. Some like to whip it with powdered sugar and vanilla to serve with berries or fruit.
Naturally, I was excited to try several recipes calling for crème fraiche. Celery Soup with Bacon Croutons was first on the list.
I’ve never been a fan of celery soup, because the only celery soup I’ve tasted was from a can. This recipe calls for leeks, something I’d frozen from the summer garden. Since the soup was to be pureed, I saw no need to use fresh.
There is a world of difference between this homemade celery soup and the condensed canned version. My husband and I became instant fans. We had enough left for a second meal and my husband declared it was even better rewarmed and served the following day. The addition of the crème fraiche added a creamy richness and depth of flavor.
Nothing more than a bowl of this soup is needed to make a satisfying lunch, unless you want to add a citrusy glass of Chardonnay.
Celery Soup with Bacon Croutons
3 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, halved and sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 celery ribs (approximately 1 lb.), thinly sliced
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
4 slices bacon
Two slices country bread, cut into cubes
1/3 cup crème fraiche
In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the leeks, onions and garlic. Cook over moderate heat until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the celery and cook until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender (about 35 minutes).
Cook bacon slices in a skillet until brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the bacon fat. Ad bread cubes and cook until browned and crisp (about 8 minutes). Transfer to paper-towel lined plate.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan. Whisk in crème fraiche. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.
Serve the celery soup hot, topped with crumbled bacon, croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.
This soup can be refrigerated and reheated.