Celeriac is a vegetable that we use a lot in the restaurant. We use it in coleslaw, in slow-cooked dishes, in pesto and in soup. I think it is an underused vegetable. It is delicious in this recipe with the tastes of apple and smoked bacon.

You can get excellent stock from Carol’s Stock Market which is made additive free in her premises in Derry.

Check out the website and apart from the range of products it is worth reading Carol Banahan’s story of her life in high finance in Canada before returning to Ireland and setting up this business.

For apple juice you might like to try The Apple Farm in Cahir, Co Tipperary run by the Traas family.

There is eating and drinking in this and it is easy to make

To Italy for the second soup, a tasty minestrone. There is eating and drinking in this and it is easy to make. You can use and tomato and basil sauce you like or make your own, but I like the Simply Better sauce as it is made in Italy and there is no added sugar.

Both soups will keep for four or five days in the fridge, or can be frozen.

Happy cooking,


Neven’s Spanish Trails TV series is on RTE1 at 830 on Wednesdays.


Celeriac and potato soup with smoked bacon

Serves four to six

2 litres (3½ pints) chicken stock (from a cube is fine)

5 garlic cloves (3 peeled and 2 thinly sliced)

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

500g (1lb 2oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 celeriac, peeled and chopped

100g (4oz) smoked bacon lardons

300ml (½ pint) cream

100ml (3½fl oz) unsweetened apple juice

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

buttered brown soda bread, to serve (optional)

  • 1 Place the stock, peeled garlic and half of the thyme in a large pan over a high heat.
  • 2 Add the potatoes, celeriac and half of the bacon and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
  • 3 Stir in most of the cream, reserving a little to garnish, along with all of the apple juice and use a hand-held blender to blitz until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • 4 When almost ready to serve, heat the oil in a small frying pan and sauté the rest of the bacon lardons for a few minutes, until crisp and lightly golden. Stir in the sliced garlic with the rest of the thyme and cook for 30-60 seconds, until crisp.
  • 5 Reheat the soup until warmed through, then ladle into warmed bowls and swirl in the remaining cream, then top with the smoked bacon and garlic mixture.
  • 6 Serve with buttered slices of brown soda bread, if liked.
  • Minestrone soup with pesto

    Minestrone soup with pesto. \ Photography: Claire Nash. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

    Serves four to six

    2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil

    1 carrot, diced

    1 celery stick, trimmed and diced

    2 garlic cloves, crushed

    1 x 428g jar of Italian tomato & basil pasta sauce

    1 tbsp tomato purée

    600ml vegetable stock

    100g fine green beans, cut into 3cm pieces

    120g Italian Bronze Die Spaghetti, broken up into short pieces

    1 tbsp fresh basil, shredded

    1 tbsp Italian Pesto Alla Genove

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Heat the rapeseed oil in a large pot and add the carrot, celery and garlic.
  • 2 Sauté for 5 minutes, until softened but not brown.
  • 3 Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato purée and vegetable stock and stir.
  • 4 Add the broken spaghetti pieces.
  • 5 Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has slightly reduced, and the vegetables are tender.
  • 6 Once the pasta is cooked add in the fine green beans and stir to combine.
  • 7 Stir in the basil then season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for another minute or two, until the beans are just tender.
  • 8 Ladle into a bowl & spoon over some fresh basil and pesto.
  • 9 Serve with sourdough bread, if desired.