Several ideas for what to do with celery leaves – including a hearty soup

An important part of Tried And Supplied’s mission is the elimination of food waste, so when I carted back a couple of heads of celery topped with outrageous leafy hairdos not long ago, I hesitated before pitilessly pruning the frivolous bangs and dropping them in the bin. Surely, there must be a use for them?

A bit of research revealed that there certainly is. Below, you’ll find some ideas, but I think the best of all is the hearty, creamy, soup.

what to do with celery leaves
The leaves – it’s a lot to throw away – and there is so much you can do with them.

Ideas for using celery leaves

  • Make a pesto (garlic, almonds, olive oil, pecorino, salt and pepper) and:
    • Add it to a risotto
    • Mix it with cannellini beans
    • Spread it on bruschetta, topped with tomatoes
    • Incorporate into a sandwich of avocado, cucumber, goats cheese and rocket
  • Chop and use as a garnish – use the delicate, light-hued, inner leaves on deviled eggs for example.
  • Mix with a tin of drained chickpeas, olive oil, sherry vinegar and spring onions
  • Add them to a salsa verde
  • Add, right at the end of cooking, to a stir fry
  • Substitute some or all of the darker (stronger flavoured) celery leaves for parsley, for example, in a tabbouleh
  • Add to a green salad, or chop the delicate inner leaves into a potato salad
  • Jekka McVicar, writing in A Taste Of Home, suggests mashing cooked parsnip (about 750g) with onion, garlic, ricotta, a couple of tablespoons of chopped celery leaf and a couple of egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites, and fold in. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for about half an hour.
  • Or you can make it into a fabulous, hearty, creamy soup, as described below

Various garnishes for this celery leaf soup

You can try all kinds of garnishes with this soup:

  • Rye bread, or wholemeal croutons
  • Blue cheese
  • Shavings of pecorino or Parmesan
  • Dry-fried walnuts
  • Chives and nigella seeds
  • Or a mixture of a couple of the ideas above – in the photograph, below, there are: gorgonzola cut with mascarpone; dry-fried walnuts and wholemeal croutons.

Recipe for a hearty, creamy celery leaf soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • celery leaves from two heads of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium-sized potato (about 130g/5 oz)
  • 400 ml/1⅔ cups double cream
  • 50g/2 oz butter
  • 560 ml/4 cups just boiled water
  • 4 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • garnish – for ideas, see above
  • a couple of balls of frozen spinach (optional)
  • a couple of stems of celery, without the string (optional)

Method

  1. Peel and chop the onion, and start to sweat it with the butter in a large saucepan. If you are using any actual celery, destring that (or it will mess up your stick blender), chop roughly and add.
  2. Cut the leaves off the celery heads and use a pair of stout kitchen scissors to snip the leaves into saucepan. Don’t add too many – they can be a bit bitter.
  3. Crush the garlic cloves with a teaspoon of salt, and add to the saucepan, stir in well.
  4. Cut the potato (peel if necessary) into 2”/5 cm chunks.
  5. When the onion has turned translucent, add the just boiled water and the stock cubes. Grind in some pepper. Add the potato chunks. Add spinach if you are using.
  6. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
  7. Reduce the heat, and add the cream.
  8. Using your stick blender, blend until smooth (ish). Taste – if a bit bitter, add a little honey, and/or a bit more cream.
  9. Serve, with whatever garnish you decide upon.

celery leaf soup recipe

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