Celery Root and Pear Soup with Crispy Pancetta

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It’s time to give praise to a tasty Fall vegetable that’s often overlooked. Celery root can be roasted, smashed, pureed, sautéed, or simply eaten raw. This is one of my favorite recipes to have on a cool Fall night.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

4 cups celery root, 1/2-inch cubes peeled (from one 1 1/4-pound celery root)

3 cups Anjou Pears, 1/2-inch cubes peeled cored (2 medium)

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped (about 1 large)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried thyme

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock/broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

Pinch of salt and pepper

Pinch of chili flakes (optional)

3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon)

Preparation:

Melt butter in a large sauce-pan over medium heat. Add celery root, pears, onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the pears and some of celery root are translucent being careful not to brown too much and stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili flakes, thyme and cook for another 5 minutes. Add 4 cups broth. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer covered until celery root and pears are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cream; cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375°F. Arrange pancetta slices in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Roast until pancetta is browned and crispy, about 18 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble pancetta.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Re-warm soup over medium heat, divide soup among bowls and sprinkle pancetta crumbles. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6