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Soupy Rice with Celeriac and Chestnuts

by . Featured in COOK EAT REPEAT
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Introduction

I think of this rather as an autumnal or wintry version of risi e bisi, Venice’s celebration of spring in the form of a pea risotto that is just this side of a soup. It has a certain elegant calm about it. Its flavour is not muted exactly — the sweet grassiness of the celeriac, the fragrant woodsiness of thyme, the richness of Marsala and the warmth of garlic all make their presence lightly felt — but it has a gentleness that feels so very unmodern and so very precious. There is just something quiet and lovely about it that seems to still the air around you as you eat.

If you wish to use mushroom stock (either from a cube or made by soaking dried porcini) you certainly can, and if using porcini, fry them, once soaked, along with the leek. This would also make it vegetarian. While simply ditching the cheese and using oil in place of butter — on top of the switch of stocks — would make it vegan (and do check the Marsala is vegan-friendly) — you will need to provide more oomph; I suggest a couple of teaspoons of miso or 2-3 tablespoons of the Burnt Onion and Aubergine Dip. Or roast a whole bulb of garlic as per the directions in the dip recipe and squeeze into the soup at the end.

Of all the recipes in Cook, Eat, Repeat, I think that this must be the one I’ve cooked the most. It’s bowlfood at its most exquisitely comforting, and a necessary reminder that beige food can be beautiful — perhaps more to taste than to look at, but that, after all, is what counts.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

I think of this rather as an autumnal or wintry version of risi e bisi, Venice’s celebration of spring in the form of a pea risotto that is just this side of a soup. It has a certain elegant calm about it. Its flavour is not muted exactly — the sweet grassiness of the celeriac, the fragrant woodsiness of thyme, the richness of Marsala and the warmth of garlic all make their presence lightly felt — but it has a gentleness that feels so very unmodern and so very precious. There is just something quiet and lovely about it that seems to still the air around you as you eat.

If you wish to use mushroom stock (either from a cube or made by soaking dried porcini) you certainly can, and if using porcini, fry them, once soaked, along with the leek. This would also make it vegetarian. While simply ditching the cheese and using oil in place of butter — on top of the switch of stocks — would make it vegan (and do check the Marsala is vegan-friendly) — you will need to provide more oomph; I suggest a couple of teaspoons of miso or 2-3 tablespoons of the Burnt Onion and Aubergine Dip. Or roast a whole bulb of garlic as per the directions in the dip recipe and squeeze into the soup at the end.

Of all the recipes in Cook, Eat, Repeat, I think that this must be the one I’ve cooked the most. It’s bowlfood at its most exquisitely comforting, and a necessary reminder that beige food can be beautiful — perhaps more to taste than to look at, but that, after all, is what counts.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Soupy Rice
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin
Ocado

(UK only)

Please note that we’ve now introduced a shopping feature with our friends at Ocado so that you can get your ingredients delivered direct to your door, if Ocado serves your area - check at ocado.com/postcode. We hope that this will make shopping for Nigella’s recipe ingredients easier. For any queries related to your Ocado shop, head to ocado.com/customercare.

Ingredients

Serves: 4

Metric Cups
  • 300 grams celeriac
  • 1 large leek
  • A large bunch of flatleaf parsley
  • A bundle of fresh thyme
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 3 x 15ml tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 grams butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • 225 grams arborio rice
  • 4 x 15ml tablespoons marsala
  • 1½ litres chicken stock
  • 100 grams cooked and peeled chestnuts ( I buy these in vacuum-sealed packets)
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent), plus more to serve
  • 2 cups cubed celeriac
  • 1 large leek
  • A large bunch of Italian parsley
  • A bundle of fresh thyme
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 heaping cup arborio rice
  • 4 tablespoons marsala
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • scant 1 cup cooked and peeled chestnut ( I buy these in vacuum-sealed packets)
  • 2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent), plus more to serve

Please note that nigella.com is not able to accept responsibility for any substitutions that Ocado may need to make as a result of stock availability or otherwise. For any queries, head to ocado.com/customercare.

Feel free to use the “swap” feature and adjust brands and quantities as needed.

Method

  1. Peel the celeriac and cut into 1-2cm / ¾in cubes. Wash the leek to remove any mud, if needed. Halve the leek lengthways then finely slice it. Roughly chop enough parsley to give you 3 tablespoonsful, strip and measure out 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves, and peel the garlic cloves in readiness.
  2. Get out a heavy-based pan that comes with a lid — I use one of 22cm / 9in diameter — and to it add 1 tablespoon of the oil and 25g / 2 tablespoons of the butter. Warm over medium heat and when the butter's melted, add the sliced leek and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes, until it loses its brightness and starts to show the first signs of softening.
  3. Add the 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley and the teaspoon of thyme leaves, then mince or grate in the garlic. Take the pan off the heat for this if it helps.
  4. Add the remaining butter to the pan, stir everything together, then, when the butter's melted, tip in the cubes of celeriac and cook, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes or until you can feel that the celeriac cubes are beginning to soften and fuzz a bit around the edges.
  5. Stir in the ground mace, pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and give another good stir, turning the heat up as you do so.
  6. Add the rice, stirring until it is well coated, and pour in the Marsala, letting it bubble up and reduce a little, before adding the stock.
  7. Finally add the chestnuts, breaking them up a bit with your hands as you drop them in.
  8. Bring to the boil, then put on the lid, turn the heat down, and cook at a jaunty simmer for 15 minutes, giving it a stir halfway through to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. After 15 minutes the rice should be cooked and the celeriac soft, but if not, give it another 5 minutes. At this stage it will be quite liquid.
  9. Take off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes with the lid off. It will become thicker but still be comfortingly soupy. While it's standing, chop some more parsley to give you about 6 tablespoons' worth. When the soup has had its 10 minutes, stir in the just chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, and taste to see if you want more.
  10. As you serve, sprinkle with some thyme leaves and maybe a sprig or two and put the cheese on the table for people to grate over as they eat.
  1. Peel the celeriac and cut into 1-2cm / ¾in cubes. Wash the leek to remove any mud, if needed. Halve the leek lengthways then finely slice it. Roughly chop enough parsley to give you 3 tablespoonsful, strip and measure out 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves, and peel the garlic cloves in readiness.
  2. Get out a heavy-based pan that comes with a lid — I use one of 22cm / 9in diameter — and to it add 1 tablespoon of the oil and 25g / 2 tablespoons of the butter. Warm over medium heat and when the butter's melted, add the sliced leek and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes, until it loses its brightness and starts to show the first signs of softening.
  3. Add the 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley and the teaspoon of thyme leaves, then mince or grate in the garlic. Take the pan off the heat for this if it helps.
  4. Add the remaining butter to the pan, stir everything together, then, when the butter's melted, tip in the cubes of celeriac and cook, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes or until you can feel that the celeriac cubes are beginning to soften and fuzz a bit around the edges.
  5. Stir in the ground mace, pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and give another good stir, turning the heat up as you do so.
  6. Add the rice, stirring until it is well coated, and pour in the Marsala, letting it bubble up and reduce a little, before adding the stock.
  7. Finally add the chestnut, breaking them up a bit with your hands as you drop them in.
  8. Bring to the boil, then put on the lid, turn the heat down, and cook at a jaunty simmer for 15 minutes, giving it a stir halfway through to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. After 15 minutes the rice should be cooked and the celeriac soft, but if not, give it another 5 minutes. At this stage it will be quite liquid.
  9. Take off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes with the lid off. It will become thicker but still be comfortingly soupy. While it's standing, chop some more parsley to give you about 6 tablespoons' worth. When the soup has had its 10 minutes, stir in the just chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, and taste to see if you want more.
  10. As you serve, sprinkle with some thyme leaves and maybe a sprig or two and put the cheese on the table for people to grate over as they eat.

Additional Information

For vegetarians replace the Pecorino or Parmesan with a vegetarian alternative.

STORE:
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days. Reheat gently in saucepan, stirring, adding extra liquid if needed, until piping hot.

FREEZE:
Freeze in airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge. Reheat as above.

For vegetarians replace the Pecorino or Parmesan with a vegetarian alternative.

STORE:
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days. Reheat gently in saucepan, stirring, adding extra liquid if needed, until piping hot.

FREEZE:
Freeze in airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge. Reheat as above.

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