Pretty is as pretty does (French Fridays with Dorie: Celery-Celery Soup & Monkfish w/ Double Carrots)

In the month of October, it seems like French Fridays with Dorie's mission is to search out the ugliest ingredients possible and force us to figure out how to make these ugly monstrosities pretty enough to eat. I will be so glad when we get to dessert week...

First up, celery-celery soup.

After an unsuccessful ingredient search for last week's star ingredient, I finally decided to start revisiting all the stores that I struck out at to see if my luck would change.

It did. I finally found this little ugly restocked in the "roots" section. (I also found a lone bag of Jerusalem artichokes, which I grabbed up to make the future Jerusalem artichoke soup recipe - I knew that if I expected to find them on the shelf when the recipe came up, I would totally be doomed...)

Sticking along my recent theme of keeping things simple, I changed up the procedure "just a wee bit"... Instead of sauteing the vegetables and cooking the soup, I threw all the vegetables (celery root, celery and onion) onto a baking sheet and threw them into a hot (400F) oven for about a half hour or so so they could soften and caramelize.

Once the vegetables were done, I threw them, some salt & aleppo pepper and a quart of chicken stock into the Vitamix and blended it all until smooth. When it was time for dinner, I reheated the mixture gently on the stove.

For garnishes, I used creme fraiche and some shredded celery root that I had tossed in sugar and dried out in a low oven (a treatment that I picked up in the carrot cake recipe from one of the Macrina Bakery cookbooks).

It wasn't pretty, but even my soup hater thought that this one came out pretty tasty.

The next up on the ugly parade is monkfish and double carrots.

Now, I was pretty convinced that there was no way in Metropolis that I was going to find the main ingredient in this recipe. If I couldn't find celery root, it didn't seem realistic that monk fish was going to magically appear.

The benefit of having low expectations is that sometimes your expectations are exceeded. A trip to our "local" (and by local, I mean 40 minutes away) fishmonger yielded a display case with exactly one piece sad-looking piece of monk sitting behind it.

The fishmonger seemed kind of excited that we were passing over the deep coral wedges of sockeye salmon and made sure we knew everything we needed to know about monk and then went into the back and brought out two much more appealing sections of fish. Apparently, we had to prove our worthiness before we could have the "good stuff".

Preparation of the monk-carrot dish was pretty simple. Since I had about three pounds of carrots hanging in the freezer, I decided to juice my own. The carrot juice was simmered down with some butter to form the broth/ sauce for the dish. Instead of cooking the carrots stove top, they received the oven roasting treatment (because, you know, that whole not being able to follow direction thing...).

The monk was sauteed in the bacon fat and then everything was plated together.

It was tasty enough, but I think I could have done without the carrot juice. I was feeling a little bit too Bugs Bunny with all that carotene floating around.

Have a lovely weekend all.


This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. The recipe for celery-celery soup can be found here.


  1. Your dishes look great Cher and I love the idea of roasting those veggies for the soup!

  2. Luck was on your side!!! I pulled a Kathy and ordered my sunchokes on ebay. Even Bill loved this dish...always a shocker when he does!

  3. Ugly parade indeed! At least you have a fish monger to prove your worth too - we are in LA today and tomorrow and I'm planning on searching for the Jerusalem Artichokes and stoping at McCall's -

  4. Yeah, you're right, it's the ugly parade this month. The celery celery soup was tasty. Your fish turned out great - kudos for finding monkfish. One vendor said "we had it last week", another looked at me blankly. Scallops were a pretty tasty substitute though.

  5. With you on roasting veggies for soup. easier and tastier than boiling. Impressed you found the monkfish. It is a tasty fish, but it is really icky looking. Nicely done lady.

  6. True, but then, it seems that looks can be deceiving. I also found jerusalem artichokes today and bought enough for both recipes. I'm not taking any chances. Let's just hope that they are good, because I'm going to hate eating through 1.5 kilos if not.

  7. Celery root, Jerusalem artichokes, and monkfish - I think there's no coincidence that they've been left until near the end. So far, though, they are far more delicious than their looks let on. I'm still on the hunt for the Jerusalem artichokes. There might be a catch up in the offing for next Friday instead.

  8. Haven't even heard of Monkfish before, it sounds so whimsical :P
    Beautiful roasted veggies in this soup!

    Choc Chip Uru

  9. What an impressive shopper you've been! I used scallops, and picked up some carrot juice at the store. We loved it. Of course, no post, just a facebook photo - sometimes that's how I roll (I learned that bad habit from Trevor :) ) Your dish looks wonderful!

  10. Cher your stories are always so great. Love the fishmonger story and the Bugs Bunny reference. We enjoyed this one but I must say I prefer roasted vegetables to anything.

  11. This month is filled with shopping challenges, isn't it? I've been on the lookout for Jerusalem artichokes all month, but I haven't spotted them yet. I wonder what will transpire this week. I loved the celery soup according to the directions, but I think roasting the veggies would make it even better. Brilliant! And the garnish sounds good too. I made candied fennel from the stalks this summer. It was amazing, so sugared celery root must be too. The macrina bakery book has been on my list. The library doesn't have it so I can't test drive it, my usual process.

  12. "So I whipped up some shredded celery root in sugar".....are you kidding me ?? Holy cannoli. Macrina Bakery or not, this is genius. By the way, how about those memories of that lovely breakfast out there :) Wow. I can't even believe how cool and creative that was - let alone the whole roast, caramelize and Vitamix it. And yes, that monkfish was an A+ as well. Too hilarious that you had to prove your worth in order to get the super grade A from the back room. Makes me feel a little bad for that poor little monkfish in the case.....:)

  13. It has been a strange month for ugly, for sure!! Celery root, monkfish and moving onto Jerusalem artichokes! I’m really ready for something pretty! Great way to prepare the soup…love that you roasted the veggies and then threw them into the Vitamix…your soup looks great! And your monkfish looks delicious too! You have had a busy week, Cher!

  14. Your posts always make me laugh! I've relied on your blog to keep me up to date and to see what the end results look like while I've been AWOL :)
    (I wasn't kidding about the stalking bit!)


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