creamy celery root soup with tahini

Once upon a time in dr bob's life as a young American summer ex-pat in Rome, there was a Pugliese restaurant not far from the main train station there called Severino il Pugliese. bob already had a soft spot for Puglia because of the orecchiette and cavatelli pasta that are not well known back in the USA, but this regional cuisine joint introduced him to cream of fava bean soup/puree, pretty thick like American pea soup but thick enough to be called puree in the Italian vocabulary. Only twice did he get to sample this delight before Severino was no more, restaurants come and go for many reasons. But the memory remained.

Strangely enough we never really succeeded in duplicating the memory, although it could be said that we did not try all that hard. Part of the appeal had to be connected to bob's childhood favorite bean with bacon Campbell's soup from a can coupled with the later attraction to fresh fava beans peeled and served individually with chunks of parmigiano cheese, also a memory from bob's decade of summer life in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.

This thick creamy soup evokes a similar feeling to the fava bean version, this one with "white beans" and a misunderstood veggie, celery root, which even we have not explored enough apart from Marc Vetri's short rib accompaniment. Since celery root has a touch of celery flavor, and celery is one of the trio of magic green veggies that make the "fritto" for our series of cream soups that actually get hit with cream as the creaminess agent, the combination with the middle eastern tahini (sesame seed paste) ingredient immediately sparked bob's interest.

So we tried this out the same day it appeared in our local Philly Inquirer, orginating a few weeks earlier in the Washington Post as our paper atrophies in staff and size. And loved the result. It can be thinned a bit to serve more as a cream soup than a really thick soup, this is an optional decision. Ani served it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Yum.

The thick version of this can take you by surprise, so either eat a smaller portion or thin out the soup so that it is less nutrient dense.


2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs celery root, roots and woody parts trimmed, peeled and diced (6 to 7 cups, we used about 3 lbs)
4 c low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or more as needed
1 c no-salt-added canned white beans, drained and rinsed (we just used a typical can)
3/4 t kosher salt, or more as needed
1/4 c tahini paste
1 T fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
optional 1/4 c fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
optional 1/2 c crushed pita chips
optional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on serving


  1. Peel the celery root to remove the darker peripheral material and then chop up into small cubes for boiling like you would to make mashed potatoes.
  2. Dice the onion, mince the garlic and prep the parsley garnish, it you opt to do the green garnish color enhancement.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans. We used small navy beans, but great northern beans look the same. About the Campbell soup sized bean from bob's childhood memories.
  4. Squeeze the lemon juice into a measured little recipient.
  5. In a large nonstick pot over medium heat, heat the oil and saute the onion until softened but not browned (maybe 3 minutes), then squeeze in the garlic and continue for another 30 seconds.
  6. Add the celery root, broth, beans and salt and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes or so (we did 30 for good measure) making sure the celery root is really tender.
  7. Add the tahini and lemon juice and use an immersion blender to puree the soup mixture until smooth.
  8. Adjust the lemon and salt to taste at this point, and add more water or broth if you wish a less dense result.
  9. Garnish individual servings with the chips and greens if you have them, we just went with the EVOO drizzle.


  1. Marc Vetri's short ribs. Marc demonstrated it for us at Bloomindales KoP when they still were doing a series of food workshops, long since discontinued. We sat next to Marc's mom and got some family background.
  2. Original recipe by Ellie Krieger written up in the Washington Post (2020) Creamy Celery Root Soup with Tahini.
  3. Illustrations available.
celeryrootsoup.htm: 23-jan-2020 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]