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Those fresh leafy celery tops

The beautiful green of those always fresh-looking leaves on top of the celery stalk are *just plain bitter* if you taste them--should I be so anxious to put them in soups etc. ?

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  1. I love celery leaves! My mother always used them is soups, so I do to. I also rough chop them and mix into salads. By all means, use them.

    1. I ALWAYS use celery leaves, in fact, I prefer them to the actual celery and always make sure to find a head with a lot of good looking leaves when I buy the celery. I add them to pasta & potato salads, stuffings, soups, etc.

      1. i agree with the others: celery leaves ARE great. i imagine it'd be nice enough to make a pesto with.

        (what to do with all the stalks afterwards?)

        1. YES! I love them! In fact, I dry them in a hand strainer so I have them on hand all the time. Love them crumbled into TJ's Roasted Pepper and Tomato soup.

          1. Agree with the other responses that they're keepers. They are great for soups and stocks, or stick some inside a chicken or turkey before you roast it. Also, try them chopped into salads and slaws for extra taste.


            1. So, do I just have some bitter leaves. or are you all saying that the bitter is OK?

              I notice if I put enough carrots/ onions into soup it gets too sweet--
              so I thought too many celery leaves might impart a bitterness.
              Maybe I'll just never have too many to worry about.

              1 Reply
              1. re: blue room

                They are "bitter" like radicchio is "bitter." But that's a taste I like. Remember, you're not adding a lot of celery leaves to the soup, so the soup will not be bitter.

              2. I agree with using them in soups, but wanted to say that I think they are particularly nice in split pea soup. Coarsely chop them - they will disappear by the time the dried peas are cooked and breaking down. I think the celery gets sweeter as it cooks.

                If I am fortunate enough to have a lot of celery leaves, I use them as the green part of a salad. Example: halved cherry or grape tomatoes, sweet onion, and celery leaves, with a sweet&sour dressing. I'd add celery leaves in addition to or in place of frisee/chicory in other salads. They have a similar level of bitterness, but celery leaves are far more tender than frisee, chicory, and other members of the endive family. Also, the paler, yellower leaves toward the interior of the celery bunch are less bitter than the larger, darker leaves.

                1 Reply
                1. re: greygarious

                  thanks for reminding me about good old split pea soup! i need a hambone!

                2. yep..we love 'em even raw, dipped in hummus with the little tender stems attached...also great in soups and stews as others say. Someone on these boards also said that fresh chopped celery leaves are a good substitute for cilantro if you hate cilantro or don't have any.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Val

                    I'm allregic to cilantro/corriander and someone here suggested that I use celery leaves...others haven't noticed a difference!
                    So if you have extra, I say make some guacamole!

                  2. Like many other bitter greens, the celery leaves sweeten with cooking. I use them in soups -- always in chicken stock -- and often in salads and braised with other vegetables.

                    1. i don't register bitterness in celery leaves. not only they taste good, they also smell so good. they go into soup and steamed mussels in my household.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Pata_Negra

                        Steamed mussels...I like that idea! When you think of it, you can use them pretty much the way you would use flat-leaf parsley.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          Yes, celery is "legally" an herb. I think it's the largest one. I use the leaves as such, in amounts similar to parsley.

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            yes indeed, however celery leaves are much much more aromatic. position your face over the steamed mussel pot as you lift up the lid. now inhale deeply :D

                            i wash them down with a Gewuerztraminer. heavenly!

                        2. I love them as well, to eat raw or cook with. I alway make sure to stuff a lot of them inside the cavity of my chicken while roasting along with peppers and onions. I also chop them with the same mixture and put it under the skin of the chicken. It smells wonderful! And I think that the herbs under the skin ensure a moist and succulent chicken.

                          1. My grandmother uses celery leaves in her meatloaf, and it is pretty good meatloaf....

                            1. Oooh I like the tender pale green stalks, and their floofy leaves over the dark green stalks and their slightly tougher leaves- but it's all good. I chop them up into tuna or chicken salad, toss them into regular salad, soups, and my husband loves it when I make open faced buffalo-chicken salad sandwiches and sprinkle minced celery (and the leaves) over the top of the blue cheese.

                              1. I never buy celery "hearts". The leaves are too good to pass up.

                                1. I use celery and tops in soup or broth. I also like to eat the leaves. I like the taste. I have found that organic celery tastes better than regular. Not as bitter. I only buy the organic now.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                    If you are going to use the leafy tops, USE ORGANICALLY-GROWN cellery. I live in celery-growing country and it is one of the top chemically-sprayed crops. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pi035

                                    The trouble is many unknowlegable produce dept workers cut off the nice leafy tops, not knowing they're the most savory parts.

                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                      Just think of the tops as organically grown fresh herbs. I really like organically-grown celery.

                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        Toodie Jane, thank you for the reminder about eating organic celery! Here's a list I got today in my e-mails from Dr. Weil, the 12 foods to buy organic:

                                        1. re: Val

                                          thanks for the list, to which I'd add SPINACH. Here in Calif, the commercial spinach growers have been fighting a race of fungicide-resistant diseases and use more and more chemicals.

                                          The best thing is to grow your own food, as much as is possible. Find great tips on the Garden Board here at chowhound.


                                      2. re: toodie jane

                                        >>>>>>The trouble is many unknowlegable produce dept workers cut off the nice leafy tops, not knowing they're the most savory parts.<<<<<

                                        this just happened as i was shopping at harris teeter, which otherwise has a really beautiful and varied produce section. it was so sad to see the topless celery. i need to talk to the store manager.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          yes, do. Take the time to explain why celery tops are so useful, and encourage them to trim just the very dry ends (which is I'm sure why they do it in the first place--it's all about cosmetics)

                                          1. re: toodie jane

                                            these were indiscriminately hacked! ;-(.

                                    2. I save them for when I make banh mi at home. Lovely. Just lovely.

                                      1. good in tortellini salad!

                                        1. They are good in pasta with clam sauce. Sometimes if I don't have parsley I use celery leaves instead.

                                          1. I am in Egypt and when I was tearing the tops off the celery to make Thanksgiving stuffing, my housekeeper pulled them out of the trash. Apparently she makes pickles using celery leaves.

                                            1. I always take every opportunity to pimp this celeriac risotto recipe finished with a little celery-leaf pesto. Definitely converted me to a celery-leaf lover.


                                              1. I'm reading the book Heat about Mario Babbo, The author apprentices in his kitchen and other great kitchens.

                                                Mario used to root through the garbage cans to see what was being wasted. One day the author was chopping celery and had thrown away the celery tops. Too hard to chop so they looked nice. Anyway, Mario found all the celery tops in the garbage and had a fit. He said our job is to buy food, fix it and then charge for it. We don't do that when we throw away good food.

                                                So Mario definitely uses celery tops.

                                                1. *love* them in any mayo-dressed salad: potato, pasta, shrimp, tuna, egg. they cut the mayo with a great sharp taste that i like much better than added vinegar.

                                                  1. Sizzle the leaves in olive oil, add tomato cubes, basil, smidge of garlic and serve on top of fresh pasta. Run out of celery tops/leaves? Thinly shaved fennel works too.

                                                    The "bitter" that the OP describes is the kind of bitter that Italians (and Italophiles like me) just love. You can find the same flavor in escarole, broccoli rabe and rapini. Of course even my food-lovin' Chow friends crinkle their noses when I try to serve Fernet-Branca (the bitterest bitters of 'em all, arguably).

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: shaogo

                                                      can't help myself -- when i hear Fernet-Branca mentioned have to ask: have you read one of the funniest books in the world: "Cooking With Fernet-Branca"? highly recommended. There's a pub in San Francisco where Fernet- Branca devotees hang out and drink it.... eeewwwwwww. :o))

                                                    2. I've started using them in place of dill, from soups to sauce and everything in between. I like celery leaf's gentle bitterness much better than dills pungency.

                                                      I think the OP's taste test would be like tasting vinegar straight. A little is all you need, until you get a taste for that particular flavor bump :->

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: just_M

                                                        The whites (not the orange coral) of raw fresh scallops(about two per person) and long black French "radish", both sliced thinly, arranged on a plate, with a drizzle of hazlenut oil, chopped celery leaves (like parsley), salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Don't have a name for it, but I invented it and it's very good.

                                                      2. Here’s another vote for keeping the celery leaves. Add them to salads (pasta, green, potato), garnish devilled eggs, whatever. And don’t forget the heart! Those pale yellow parts are my favorite.

                                                        1. They are awesome as a tempura.

                                                          1. Drenched in a good bloody mary ~ they are pretty awesome :-)

                                                            1. I love celery leaves as the greenery on a tuna or chicken salad sandwich.