Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Creamy Celery Soup and the Art Institute of Chicago~

We are very fortunate and grateful to live a 90 minute drive to downtown Chicago, where the shopping is amazing, restaurants and theatre are world class, and museums are some of the best in the United States. You are probably wondering how this relates to celery soup... I'll get to that in just a bit :)

Last weekend, since we had stayed overnight in Chicago for a wedding reception,  my husband and I were able to attend the member's preview of the reinstallation of Marc Chagalls' America Windows the next day.

The Art Institute removed Chagall's stained glass windows during construction of the new Modern Wing.  The windows were examined and restored during their five year absence. They were painstakingly cleaned with Q-tips and baby shampoo to remove the clouded layer of grime and dust that formed on them since their debut in 1977. They are beautiful again and they are installed so that the light shines through them gloriously.

Chagall had offered to create this work for the City of Chicago to commemorate the Bicentennnial of America and it's freedom of culture and religion and it was dedicated in memory of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Afterward, we had a late lunch at the new restaurant in the Art Institute's Modern Wing called Terzo Piano.  My husband ordered the soup du jour, which was cream of celery. He mentioned several times how good it was.

Since he enjoyed the soup so much and I had also just seen a delicious celery soup posted by La Table de Nana, which had caught my eye, I decided to make some myself yesterday. Since I had never made celery soup before I researched and compared several recipes.  I decided on the one I will share with you. It turned out deliciously thick and creamy, even without the adding any cream! My husband said that this was even better than the soup he had a Terzo Piano.

I decided it would be fun to serve celery soup shots to my guests at Thanksgiving as an appetizer!  You can find similar-sized glasses for sale here.

I think the addition of the celery root is essential to this recipe.  It really adds a depth of celery flavor!

Creamy Celery Soup
Adapted from this recipe on Epicurious from Bon Appétit
Printable Recipe

Serves 6 (generously)

Note: The original recipe calls for sautéing the vegetables in butter. I used olive oil instead. I also didn't find the need to add cream to the soup as stated in the original recipe because it was creamy enough on its own after puréed. You could also make this using vegetable stock rather than chicken stock making it completely vegetarian. Made just as the recipe states, you will enjoy a delicious, celery flavor!

2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups chopped celery
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1-pound celery root, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 10-ounce russet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon celery salt
4-6 cups of low sodium chicken stock
1-2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon or more of pepper (we like lots of pepper)

In heavy, large saucepan or stockpot add the olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the chopped celery and onions and cover and cook until very tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Stir in the pieces of celery root, potato, garlic, celery salt. Add enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables. Cover and simmer until all the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Purée in blender in batches, or, as I did, use an immersion blender right in the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Thin with more chicken stock, if necessary. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Serve with chopped celery leaves as a garnish.


  1. Susan -- I have seen Chagall's windows at the Art Institute! So beautiful and so are your pictures of it. I will make your celery soup -- it looks delicious and I am a huge fan of soup. Love it that it doesn't need cream. Joni

  2. Chagall's windows are gorgeous! Would love to have seen them in person but your pcitures of them are so vivid and stunning! All great shots, I've enjoyed the tour, Susan!

    Celery soup shots sounds so elegant for Thanksgiving, I'm sure the rest if the menu will be just as fantastic!

  3. To see Chagalls windows wonderfully cleaned and shining brightly again...what a thrill!

  4. The stained glass windows are beautiful! The collection at the Art Institute are simply lovely. I like the lady with the little girl, it's beautiful! Great shots, Susan!
    Your celery soup certainly sounds yummy! Would love to try it someday.

  5. wow great soup and beautiful stain glass, love Chicago great city

  6. this looks so delicious. I haven't used celery root for some time now and I love it, so I'm making this soup today. thanks for the lovely peek inside the Art Institute. when I was a little girl my favorite place to be in the whole world was standing in front of one of the miniature displays in the Thorne Rooms. They really rocked my world, and this post motivates me to make that 90 minute drive for a refresher!

  7. Beautiful windows...but I love the Seurat.
    I haven't had cream of celery soup since I left home many years ago. I love it but have never considered making it...until now. I love your presentation, Susan.

  8. I think you could serve bread and water in those red bowls and it would look good, I always love when they are included in your photos :)

    The soup does look and sound wonderful. I wish my husband liked soup more because I could eat it everyday and he thinks it doesn't "fill him up" enough. I might have to make this one to have for my lunches.

    The art is beautiful - I especially love how you captured the light on the stained glass.

  9. I love that this looks so creamy and there's no cream in sight! My hubby loves celery soup- I described this one to him and he's already requested it.
    The window is gorgeous! One of my boys is in Chicago and loves it there. :)

  10. I remember the movie, it was so funny and I was so young. I don't remember the glass, but it looks so vivid and beautiful. I guess soups are now on their peak. This one looks so hearty and comforting. No wonder why your husband loved it.

  11. I would love to see those stained glass windows and Impressional art works in person someday, but for now it I really enjoyed seeing them on your blog, Susan!

    My husband is a fan of celery soup so I will love trying this version. It does look very rich and creamy!

  12. Loved reliving seeing most of that artwork in Chicago - it's been awhile.

    The celery soup looks wonderful..I've already started making soups and freezing some so there is always some ready to eat! It will be on my list!!

  13. Beautiful, beautiful and beautiful again. There are days, I really miss the big city. Loved the post.

  14. Chagall's windows are breathtaking! I adore Renoir's "Sisters". As a child, I always loved cream of celery soup. Your Thanksgiving guests will be in for a real treat.

  15. WOW! The gorgeous stained glass windows!! It's like Capri or even neon blue. So bright.

    Celery root? wonder if I can find that here, maybe. This looks so delicious, especially as celery soup shots. Thanks for sharing!!

  16. The celery root is a genius addition..YOu must have loved your outing Susan..You are such a talented artist:) And I get the red hat:) RED is so toi.

  17. incredible windows and art! I wish I could drag my husband to places like that.
    What a totally cool idea to serve the soup in shot glasses like an appetizer!!!
    I've never had celery soup before but I'm liking the list of ingredients.

  18. I lived in Chicago for four memorable years, and agree that it is a cultural hot spot. I love the restaurants, people, and the Art Institute. I was a member all the years I lived there. I would have never thought celery would work in a soup but it looks great.

  19. I grew up just outside of Chicago and have fond memories of the Art Institute. One of the best assignments ever was to spend an afternoon with one painting...watching it, watching others respond to it... I learned an enormous amount about art and myself that day! The window does look amazing now, doesn't it? That color!!!

    Love the celery soup... adding the root is a great idea since celery soup often gets all it's depth from oodles of cream... will give it a try!

  20. Celery soup sounds just awesome... And I love how you serve it!! The museum looks like an fabulous time :)


  21. What a wonderful exhibit!
    The soup looks delicious too!

  22. I'm not really a huge fan of celery but that soup looks so creamy delicious that I imagine I would love it! What a fun day at the got to see some of my favorite artists!

  23. I don't think I've ever had cream of celery soup. It sounds wonderful! And it's great that your version didn't even need the cream. We love pureed soups of any kind around here...I'll have to keep this in mind.

  24. thanks Susan for sharing these wonderful photos with us!I love Chagall!!!The creamy soup is perfect for next Christmas time, is so near ... I'm looking for tasty and elegant recipes....Kisses

  25. Wow, would love to visit that gallery...the stained glass windows are fantastic.
    Beautiful recipe and I love the idea of serving in the shot glasses, gorgeous :)

  26. We too enjoyed our trip to Paris and the beautiful museums....I will serve that soup in shot glasses next weekend to my friends...another beautiful site~

    Sue P...

  27. The windows are beautiful! I'm not a huge fan of celery but my hubs is, he'd love this!

  28. It seems that you viewed all the paintings that are among my favorites at the A.I.. We are fortunate to be about 45 minutes away (if the traffic is with us). We have also enjoyed your lovely museum by the lake. We first visited when the exhibit of Polish art was there (five or so years ago). I was just thinking celery soup (since the crisper drawer has some that needs to be used).


  29. Thanks for taking me on a fieldtrip. It is wonderful to learn about places I have never been. The Sarat painting is my screen saver!!!
    Your soup look thick and so luscious. I LOVE the celery soup shooters! I may borrow that idea! Darling!
    xo Yvonne

  30. Classic art paired with homemade cream of celery soup---I've got the warm fuzzies from head to toe! And those windows...divine, aren't they? Where do you live? Before moving to KC, it was about an hour drive (in light traffic) for us to get downtown Chicago. Too bad I didn't *know* you while we were in the area!

  31. Chagall's stained glass windows are just amazing. Thank you for sharing your trip to the museum. The Celery Soup sounds very good as well. I will try this soon and have never had a Celery Soup before. There is a first time for everything and the recipe looks great.

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

  32. Looks so thick and delicious. I love the red bowl and plate (I am lusting after them really.) I also love the shooters. We did that with Tomato Basil at my son's wedding reception last January and everyone loved the presentation.
    My 16 year old son just informed me today that I was to have a crock of soup for him all winter long so he can come home from school and enjoy!

    If you decide to do the marzipan it is so easy, it is just like working with playdough. As a matter of fact the grandkids were up on the counter helping. Theirs were not as pretty, but the 18 month old sure was eating them - no matter how they looked.

  33. What a lovely and informative post. The soup looks delicious. I first had cream of celery soup at a pub in Dublin and have been searching for a good recipe ever since. I'm going to try this one. I love the shots -- so cute.

  34. Those stained glass windows are absolutely beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing those artworks, they are really something else, and thanks too for the soup:)

  35. What a lovely weekend you must have had! We gave a membership to that museum as a college graduation gift to our friends daughter - she said it was one of the best gifts because she got to use it over and over when company came to visit. Your celery soup sounds wonderful, I've never made it, but I think I'll try to get it on this weeks menu. What a great idea for Thanksgiving! I'm sure your guests will be very impressed. I love the addition of the celery leaves or even some fine hearts from the middle of the celery, you could even sprinkle a few celery seeds on top! The bowl is beautiful! Is that your everyday dinnerware? What brand is it? Thank you for your nice words about my little cockapoo, he's a sweetie pie! Have a great weekend!

  36. Thank you, everyone! It was a great weekend :)

    Sandi, we live in the Milwaukee area. Yes, too bad we didn't know each other before you moved!

    OBCS, thanks :) The bowls are BIA brand from Homegoods about two yeas ago and the plate was from Homegoods too even before then. I only have two bowls and one plate! I've been looking for more ever since I got these but no luck yet.

  37. This sounds really delicious, and I love the idea of serving shots to your Thanksgiving guests!

  38. The French Impressionists are our favorites. I especially love the "Sister" by Renoir.

    More outstanding photos of soup. You really have an artistic eye. I love how you served it in shot glasses. I'll have to give that a try. Sometimes we serve soup as an appetizer in demitasse cups. People are always so surprised and pleased with the presentation.

  39. Love the verrines. But,love the art, more! I have a fine art major and seeing those masterpieces sent chills up my spine. One doesn't expect this in a food blog. I haven't been to Chicago yet, but was in Zurich and saw Chagall's stained glass there. Magnificent. I have also been to Giverney in France to Monet's home. You can see his paintings in his garden. I have never seen such a garden!
    And Cezanne's fruit is famous... The Dutch and Flemmish artists are also my favourite. Thank you so much for the early morning edification.


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