Celery and Leek Risotto with Variations

Fennel, Leek, and Celery Risotto

Fennel, Leek, and Celery Risotto

Happy new year!

I made this risotto for Christmas dinner this year, and it was light and lovely. The white wine is optional–I find it adds a sweet tang to the risotto, but if you don’t want to add it, it won’t hurt.

Risottos are a labor of love–they take about 25-30 minutes to cook, and you are stirring constantly, so don’t start this unless you have the time.

You need:

  1. Two medium-sized leeks, whites only, finely chopped.
  2. One medium-sized onion, finely chopped.
  3. Two sticks celery, finely chopped.
  4. 5 cups vegetable stock
  5. 1 cup white wine (a nice one you could drink while cooking)
  6. 1 cup arborio or other risotto rice
  7. 1 tbsp olive oil
  8. 1/4 cup grated aged gouda (I used Rembrandt–you could also use other cheese, like parmesan or romano)
  9. Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt, or whatever salt you have), to taste
  10. White pepper (or black), to taste
  11. 2-3 sprigs of thyme

How to:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan or dutch oven. I used a saute pan, but make sure it’s a heavy-bottomed pan. Keep the heat on medium.
  2. Add the onions, leeks, and celery and sweat them–cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring frequently. Add the salt. Don’t caramelize them, but they should be near that point. They shouldn’t turn brown. If they are starting to stick to the bottom, lower the heat.
  3. Add the rice, stirring frequently until the rice turns translucent. This may take a few minutes. The middle of the rice will still be white.
  4. Add the white wine and cook, stirring frequently until the wine is cooked off. If you are not using wine, simply skip this step.
  5. Add the thyme and stir gently.
  6. Add the stock, a cup at a time. Here’s how. Add a cup of stock. Cook, stirring often. When it is almost cooked out, add another cup of stock. Repeat. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked. It should be cooked al dente–still a little hard, but done through. Risotto typically has a creamy consistency.
  7. Add the pepper and stir gently.
  8. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, stir, remove the thyme, and serve hot.

I have frozen this risotto, but it lost something in texture and flavor when I reheated it.


  1. Replace one leek with a small bulb of finely chopped fennel.
  2. Instead of the thyme, use rosemary or basil or fennel fronds.
  3. Replace the white wine with 2 tbsp 18-year balsamic vinegar + 2/3 cup water.
  4. Replace the white wine with red wine. Note: this will totally change the color of the risotto.
  5. Replace the white wine with a dark beer. Note: while wine adds a tangy aftertaste, beer can give it a hoppy, bitter aftertaste. Not for everyone.
  6. After adding cheese, add toasted almonds or crushed pecans.
  7. Top with panko breadcrumbs. Do not mix these in as they might (just might) get a wee bit soggy.

“Celery in Tamil?”

Edit: I’d just like to say that, as of July 17 2009, I’ve had 178 hits to this post. And not one person told me why they wanted to know. So, if you’re here to find out what celery is called in Tamil, please let me know what recipe it is that calls for it, and why you want to know. I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

The page with the most hits on this blog is the Hindi-English-Tamil Glossary (link at the top under the banner). Where, if you’re in a hurry, you can go to find out what celery is called in Tamil. As you might know, this page is a collaborative effort. I put a few things up, and other people came on with questions and comments, and others with answers and more comments, and the page has just grown. When I set up the glossary, I didn’t think it would garner so much attention. It still surprises me. I set it up because I wanted people from both sides of my heritage – the Tamil ancestry and the Delhi adoption – to have access to all my recipes. The English names I have tried to put in both Indian English as well as American, although the recipes themselves are often in American English, for wider appeal.

But another top search term has made me curious. “Celery in Tamil” brings a lot of people to my website. Now, when I was in India, I didn’t eat celery at all. I know I saw it now and again in Sarojini Nagar, where we bought veggies, and which I sorely miss. But I never bought and ate it. In fact, I still rarely eat it, and much prefer it cooked than raw.

As I said, though, I’m curious. So If you were drawn here by your quest to find out what celery is called in Tamil (ajmoda, according to the GoI), could you please tell me why you want to know? What recipe are you using it in?

I hope to hear from some of you! Please leave a comment. Thanks!

Slow Cooker Celery Soup

A lovely and light soup, perfect for a cold evening.

You need:

10 sticks celery, chopped

1-2 leeks, cleaned and roughly chopped
½ cup onion, finely chopped
3 small potatoes , peeled and diced
2 cups water
1 tbsp. oil
to taste salt
to taste black pepper

How to:

1. Put the oil and onions in the slow cooker. Stir and cover. Set cooker on “high”.
2. After half an hour, add the celery, potatoes, leeks, salt, and water. Stir and cover.
3. Let cook on “high” for 5-6 hours or until the potatoes are soft. You can also set it on low and let it cook for 8 hours.
4. Remove the solids and puree in a food processor. Do not discard the broth. Strain and add the puree back to the broth. Optionally, leave them in the slow cooker and use a hand blender, if you have one, then strain.
5. Return the strained soup to the slow cooker. Add pepper and serve.

You can also add half a cup of milk to the soup after pureeing and before reheating. If you do this, reduce the water by half a cup. Do not add the milk directly to the hot soup as it will curdle. Instead, take out a cup of soup from the slow cooker and add it slowly to the milk, stirring all the while. Then add this mixture to the soup, stir well, and serve.