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Celery in soup

This weekend I made cream of mushroom soup with barley and the recipe called for 2 stalks of celery. Two stalks? What am I supposed to do with the rest of the celery? Although a bag of celery is only a dollar or less, I hate to waste all those celery. So I omitted the celery in my cream of mushroom.

There are lots of soup/stew recipes that call for a couple stalks of celery and I usually skip this ingredient because I don't want limpy celery sitting in my fridge. Any ideas on what can be substitute for celery?

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  1. Some supermarkets will sell celery by the stalk. Alternatively, you could take the rest of the bunch and braise it as a side vegetable. Google this and you'll find a pile of recipes. My wife likes to do a mixed braise of celery and fennel root.

    1. Both celery seed and celery salt (which is half seed and half salt) taste like celery. Also, you can freeze celery. Chop it into whatever size pieces you think you'll use in a dish later. Bring water in a pot to a boil, dump in the celery for 3 minutes. Drain, run some cold water over it to stop the cooking right away. The celery is now blanched and can be frozen. It will NOT be crispy like raw celery, but it is fine in soups, poultry stuffing, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: blue room

        Dried celery leaves are also available in the spice aisle and are, IMO, a better choice if the use id soup. They disintegrate completely whereas celery seed may still be visible, and I use very little salt so I would not want to try to figure out how much celery salt I'd need to mimic the effect of straight celery.

        Celery itself is surprisingly high in sodium, which is why, as posted downthread, it counteracts the acid taste of tomatoes. Salt enhances sweetness.

        If you are only planning on using celery for soups/stews where you don't care about texture, the blanching step is unnecessary. I just chop and freeze any celery, along with leaves, that is around long enough to get soggy even though I cut off the root end and refrigerate it in a lidded "vase" with an inch of water. I used to hate eating raw celery but have come to appreciate it. It is healthy, and satisfies the urge to eat something with crunch. Don't know if it's true, but I have often heard that more calories are expended in eating celery than are contained in it.

      2. I'd also go with braising if you want to use the celery up. A little chicken stock and braise away. Here ya go:

        1. I don't necessarily hate the taste of celery, but I find that for soups with celery added -- the whole soup tastes like celery to me. So I leave it out altogether.

          1. A great trick I learned here on this board is to wrap the unused celery (unwashed, also), in foil and put in in your refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks without rotting. And it stays pretty crisp, as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: critter101

              I do this too, and it works pretty well.

              Another tip- if you're dicing the celery for one specific soup, dice a few more stalks and store it in a ziplock or tupperware in the freezer. If you need celery for another soup, just pull out the frozen bag and measure out what you need.

            2. I love to stuff stalks with cheese as snacks. Its really good that way.

              1 Reply
              1. betcha there is diced/sliced celery on the Salad Bar alot of stores maintain. I often look there for a bit of an ingredient that is called for that the whole item ( like a bunch of celery or 1 carrot) is too much for me. I do think celery adds to the flavor of soup.

                Sure it does cost more per lb, than buying a whole stalk, but as you have said, if the rest of the stalk goes to waste...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Quine

                  I do the same thing with the salad bar; if I need a few tablespoons of celery, peppers, or whatever, it's cheaper to just pick up what you need than to throw a package out. That said, you can caramelize celery just like onions and freeze it or keep it in olive oil in your fridge to add to dishes. Lasts a long time. Also, if you have a dehydrator, you can thinly slice & dry celery for later use.

                  1. re: Cherylptw

                    Caramelized celery? I'm intrigued. Does it get as sweet as onions do? Trying to imagine sweet celery and failing utterly . . .

                    1. re: darklyglimmer

                      I'm thinking more softened and browned rather than carmelized. I've sauteed onions till translucent and frozen them.

                2. I finally bought a bag of freeze-dried celery from Penzeys for this reason. It isn't perfect, but for a long-cooking soup or a braise, it works fine.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ldkelley

                    Would you say freeze dried is better than blanched/frozen ? Better than celery seed for flavor?
                    I love celery, put it in everything. It's fun to ask someone to describe the flavor of celery-- pretty hard!

                  2. I love celery. We never have to worry about limpy celery in the fridge. It goes in everything: chili, spaghetti sauce and soups. It is also a good snack all by itself, or with cream cheese.

                    If you really want a substitute, maybe you could try celeriac (celery root), Jicama, or a crisp apple (granny smith).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: lmn

                      Celery does not just add flavor but neutralizes the acidity. I just don't over do it.. Manhattan clam chowders with a tomato base is an example..You can add some in chunks and then remove. We happen to like it diced and leave it in.

                      1. re: scunge

                        If this is indeed true, I'll rethink my reluctance to include it. And removing the chunks is something I never even thought of.

                    2. I wouldnt substitute anything - just leave out the celery

                      But the OP was in soup making mode, why not turn the rest of the celery into soup. Freezes very well.

                      Braised celery is also good as a veg. Works particularly well with chicken. Here's a quick version I make regularly. http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cu...

                      1. buy the celery off the salad bar. cut, cleaned, just the amount you need.

                        i do this for red bell peppers, as it is often cheaper than buying the pepper!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: alkapal

                          Great idea.

                          Another thought -- use lovage leaves added at the end. (Of course, only possible if you've planted some lovage in your herb garden. Luckily, I did!)

                        2. I like to use celery leaves in most soups; sometimes you can find lovage which is a celery variant that's all leaf.

                          BTW, two stalks is quite a lot of celery. A stalk technically refers to the whole bunch, as opposed to the individuals pieces which are called ribs.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: eclecticsynergy

                            Around here, supermarkets refer to the "whole" celery as a head, and people use "stalk" and "rib" synonymously. The same is true for recipes, as far as I can recall.