This soup is a gem. I mean, how could it not be when the Godly Rick Bayless came up with it. I would recommend keeping the habanero seeds out. It's spicy but not too over the top. Just enough to clean your sinuses. I served it with a veggie panini and also put fresh mozzarella right on the panini grill to make a little fried cheese. YUM! It was like a homestyle version of the ever fabulous cheese curd. Make it!
What you Need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium celeriac (celery root) small dice, about 2 cups
2 to 3 medium carrots, small dice, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 28 ounce cans diced fire roasted tomatoes (we prefer Muir Glen)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups vegetable broth
1 habanero chile, stemmed
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
Optional: 1 pound grilled or sauteed shrimp
Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the onions have begun to brown around the edges. Scoop in the celeriac, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and continue cooking, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.
Add the tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, vegetable broth, habanero and potato. Stir until everything is well combined. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the temperature to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. Using either a countertop blender or immersion blender, puree the soup. If you're using a countertop blender, you'll need to do this in batches, taking care not to overfill the blender jar.
Return the pureed soup to the pot, stirring in the parsley, 1 tablespoon salt and honey. I'm using honey here to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes so that all the flavors have a chance to meld, then taste for final seasoning. If you're using the shrimp, add them to the individual bowls as they're being served.