I’m not sure where this idea came from. Probably from the vegetable drawer where I had a bunch of celery that I wanted to use up… and the pantry where I stored the plethora of grains we received from le sister-in-law for Christmas. Thaaaank yooouuuu, Tiiiiinaaaaa :)
Also from the gigantic library of Simpsons dialogue that is stored in my brain…
Though atypical, I believe this soup may qualify as a chowdah. It’s creamy and chunky. Yet it contains no actual cream (unless you decide so), and while it fills you up, does not leave you feeling heavy. This soup/chowder is green. Win. It’s got satisfying texture, and herbal tanginess. More win.
One prerequisite to this recipe is that you like celery. Of course, you could use something besides celery, such as carrots, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, etc… But then you wouldn’t have the lovely shade of chartreuse…
Celery & Amaranth Chowder
1 lb celery stalks, including the leaves
1 small/medium onion (preferably yellow or white)
some light vinegar (such as apple cider, white wine, or champagne), or better yet, a dry white wine
3/4 cup amaranth grain
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp white or black pepper
5-6 cups water or vegetable broth
1-2 avocados (depending on how creamy you want it. One was enough for me.)
2-3 Tbsp tahini
1) Coarsely chop the onion and place in a food processor. Add the celery leaves, and puree into a slurry. Heat the slurry over medium-high heat in a soup pot. Oil or butter is optional here, as the slurry will steam-cook itself. Keep it covered for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the celery stalks into bite-size chunks. Mash up the avocado pulp, and set aside.
2) Uncover the soup pot and let the onion-celery leaf slurry evaporate some of its liquid. It should turn a slightly darker green and reduce in volume.
3) Add the chopped celery stalks and cook until they just start to tenderize. Pour in enough vinegar or wine to loosen any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan (a few tablespoons should do it). Add the amaranth, water or broth, and spices. It will look like a Florida canal, unfortunately…
4) Cook, partially covered, over medium heat for 20-30 minutes. This should be enough time for the amaranth to cook, and the celery to soften a little more, but still retain some bite. Turn the heat to low, or completely off, and stir in the mashed avocado and tahini. Add salt to taste, and more vinegar if it’s lacking “pop“. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
You can make this chowder more indulgent by stirring in some heavy cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, or cream cheese. (Anything involving the word cream, I guess…) Plain yogurt would also be good, as well as cashew butter. Serve with some rustic whole grain bread, or a baked potato. For garnish, I found Kalamata olives to be fantastical, but some grated cheese would be wondiferous.