There’s so much rhubarb in the patch that it is becoming a bit of a problem. Rampant and unwieldy, it is technically caged in a spot removed from the main veg beds to protect it from the rabbits, but I think the barbed wire is really to keep it from taking over the EVERYTHING.

It lives in a very sheltered spot too so it crops enthusiastically from now until July when I stop picking it so it can recover and replenish its nutrients for next year’s harvest. Perhaps I should be tougher on it?

Anyway, its abundance means I find myself with the first of many main crop rhubarb gluts. Now, main crop is a different beast from its dainty, forced sister. Those pink, delicate stems look petite in comparison to the hulking great wedges of reddish-green stems that you get from main crop. They are less sweet too. More sour kick than candy sweet. Which I like. Main crop rhubarb lends itself to savoury dishes, bringing a welcome tartness to oily fish or to cut through things like pork in the way apple sauce might in more traditional contexts.

And that’s how I decide to use it this week – in a savoury soup. I make a thyme and celeriac soup, all nutty and creamy and deeply, deeply savoury. Then I finish it with quick pickled rhubarb ribbons – a sour tang that sits in glorious contrast to the soup. It sounds a bit of strange combination, I’ll admit. But go with it. I promise you’ll like it.

I’ll be continuing Rhubarb Week into next week because there’s so much to talk about. Next week, rhubarb macaroons….

(Thank you to Beko who kindly sent me their soup maker to play with for this recipe. Soup making is never a chore but this gadget makes it even simpler – just pop the celeriac, butter, milk and thyme into the blender and press the ‘smooth soup’ button. If you aren’t blessed with such wizardry, then here’s the ‘manual recipe’ below.)

 

Celeriac soup with rhubarb pickles

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serve 2

Celeriac soup with rhubarb pickles

A simple dish that's a little bit unusual. The nutty savoury soup is a great contrast to the zingy rhubarb pickles.

  • ½ large celeriac
  • 25g butter
  • up to 300ml whole milk
  • 4 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 stick rhubarb
  1. Melt the butter gently in a heavy saucepan whilst you peel and finely slice the celeriac. Add the celeriac to the butter with a pinch of salt and sweat for 10-15 minutes until the celeriac is very soft. Add half the milk then bring to the boil briefly before blending with a hand blender. Gradually add more milk until you have a smooth, thick soup. Season to taste.
  2. For the rhubarb, put the sugar and the vinegar in a small saucepan and set over a low heat until the sugar melts. Remove from the heat. Use a peeler to peel the rhubarb into long, thin ribbons. Add the ribbons to the pickling liquor and leave to steep for 5 minutes.
  3. To serve, drain the rhubarb, pour the soup into warmed bowls and top with the pickled ribbons.
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