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June 24, 2010

Recipe for minestra del sedano (Italian celery soup)


Poor celery. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride. Along with onions and carrots, it's an indispensable aromatic that forms the base of so many soups, stews and sauces, yet we hardly ever give celery its due as a vegetable. This recipe puts celery in the spotlight. The flavor combines the slight licorice of celery with the smoky richness of bacon. Be sure to de-string the celery if you're using mature stalks; nobody wants to get a mouthful of celery string in such a wonderful soup! Simply grab the strings at the root end of each stalk between your thumb and a small paring knife, and pull towards the top. The parmesan cheese rind is the magic ingredient in this humble soup, but if you don't have one in your fridge or freezer, just add more cheese on top at the end.

Minestra del sedano (Italian celery soup)

Adapted from The Joy of Soup, this recipe serves 4.


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 bacon slices, diced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 bunches celery, strings removed, cut in 1/2" slices
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock, warmed in the microwave or in a sauce pan
1 rind from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, any size you have
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Heat oil over medium heat in large saucepan or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Add onion and bacon; saute until the onion begins to brown.

Stir in tomato paste and celery. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir in the stock. Add the cheese rind. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Even if you use homemade chicken stock, the bacon adds plenty of salt, so taste before you salt the soup. I used close to a teaspoon of black pepper, because I love it.)

Add the rice, and simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until rice is tender. Pour into a tureen or individual serving bowls, and sprinkle grated cheese over the top.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: pam | June 24, 2010 at 06:58 AM

I agree! Celery needs to come to forefront more often!

Posted by: milton | June 24, 2010 at 07:01 AM

im going to give this a whirl in the next few days...thanks for sharing

Posted by: Karina | June 24, 2010 at 09:41 AM

Celery as the bridesmaid. Exactly! Sounds so delicious. I love celery soup. Why don't we feature it more often?

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | June 24, 2010 at 02:44 PM

That sounds great. I'm a big celery fan, but I agree it's underappreciated!

Posted by: Lydia | June 25, 2010 at 07:30 AM

Pam, Kalyn: We need to start a celery fan club. Cheerleaders, pom poms, the whole thing.

Milton, I'm sure you'll like it (and no blender needed!).

Karina, most of the recipes I see involve cream, and this one is so nice because there's no cream. Of course, there is bacon. And cheese.

Posted by: Kathryn | October 24, 2012 at 10:45 PM

This recipe sounds great! I never know what to do with celery. Can you give me an idea of just how much "2 bunches" of celery yields? I got mine from a farmer's market and it's a pretty big bunch...

Posted by: Lydia | October 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM

Kathryn, 4-6 cups would be about right here. As with all soups, there's always flexibility!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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