Cepa de apio is a great vegetable, and Crema de Cepa de Apio (Creole Celery Root Cream) is a very delicious and easy way to prepare it.
I was introduced to this Crema de Cepa de Apio (Creole Celery Root Cream) for the very first time a few years back. I had been looking out for cepa de apio since I first heard of its existence, when a friend told me it was an extremely rich source of calcium as well as one of the better-tasting tubers, or as Dominicans call them, viveres.
Crema de cepa de apio - "celery root puree" or "cream of celery root" was described as a typical delicacy of Constanza, a scenic highland region in the center of the Dominican Republic, famous for its cool climate and as a fruit and vegetable growing area.
What is cepa de apio?
Although the Dominican name cepa de apio (which I found out after exhaustive research on the internet is also used in Venezuela and Puerto Rico) translates literally as "celery root" this is not the same as the actual root of the celery plant known in English as "celeriac", although the two plants are closely related.
The scientific name for cepa de apio is Arracacia xanthorrhiza Bancroft. In English, it is variously known as "white carrot", "Peruvian parsnip" or "Peruvian carrot", because it is most common in the Andean region.
Its indigenous Andean name is arracacha or arracha, and was traditionally cultivated by the Incas for both human and animal consumption. These days it is being rediscovered in the Andes as a useful crop because of its durability and nutritional value. In Brazil especially it is used as baby food. As far as taste and appearance go, it could be described as a gentle combination of carrot, celeriac, and root parsley, or as Aunt Clara put it - "somewhere between potato and pumpkin" in flavor as well as color.
How to cook
To give it its full name, cepa de apio criollo (creole celery root) is a tuber. As such it can be used in the same manner as most other tubers: as well as in this creamy soup, cepa de apio can be eaten boiled or as an ingredient in stews, as a puree, or roasted and fried in slices.
On our blog, we have several cepa de apio recipes, like this soup, and a similar one combined with ginger. You can find as well a cepa de apio puree combined with yuca, and used as an option for Dominican yaroa. We also have a cepa de apio casserole very much worth trying.
I have to say that the moment I tasted it, I was an instant convert to cepa de apio. It is both delicate and tasty, aromatic, and delicious. It reminded me of tender, juicy, and tasty English parsnips at their best. I have not been such a fan of boiled and mashed víveres like the more common yuca and yautia until now, but this ingredient is certain to become a regular item on my shopping list.
Cepa de apio is said to have several excellent nutritional qualities most notably, a high calcium content (four times as much as potato).
About this recipe
This soup is traditionally served in the highland areas of the Dominican Republic, like Jarabacoa and Constanza, where especially in winter, the nights can be fresh. Sitting by an open fire wearing your winter woollies, watching the pine trees rustle in the chilly night breeze, you could be forgiven for forgetting that you are on a Caribbean island.
If a light lunch isn't the kind of thing that appeals to you, this is still a great dish that you must absolutely try.
Crema de Cepa de Apio Recipe (Creole Celery Root Cream)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion, , chopped
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 celery stalks, , chopped
- 2 small carrots, , peeled and sliced
- 1 cepa de apio, (about 2 lb [0.85 kg]), peeled and chopped
- 4 medium potatoes, , peeled and cubed
- 1½ quart [1.5 lt] vegetable broth
- 1½ teaspoon of salt, (or more, to taste)
- ½ teaspoon of pepper, (or more, to taste)
- 4 tablespoon sour cream, (optional)
- 4 tablespoon olive oil, (optional)
- parsley leaves, (optional)
- ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked red pepper, (optional)
- Sauteing vegetables: Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion. Cook and stir until it turns translucent. Add cumin powder, bay leaf, celery. Cook and stir for a minute.
- Cooking roots: Add carrots, celeriac, and potatoes, lower heat to a minimum, and add two tablespoons of broth.Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.
- Boiling: Add the remaining vegetable stock, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
- Blending: Once cool, blend the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reheating: Return to the pot and reheat.
- Serving: Serve and garnish with the garnish combination of your preference.