Recipe: Crema de Apio Venezolano | Venezuelan “Celery Root” Soup

28 Mar

In order for me to tell you about “Apio”, pronounced (ä’ pē-ō), I must tell you about my long journey to find it.  This post is 5-6 years in the making, and one of the reasons I started this blog!
When I was a kid, I used to eat Apio in various different Venezuelan dishes.  At my grandmother’s house they usually served a little bit of Apio Cream (just a thicker creamier soup), as an appetizer before lunch.  My mom sometimes served Apio Creamy Soup as a light dinner.  Apio could be found in big pieces, like you would find carrots or potatoes in a light chicken soup preparation.  My other grandmother used it in her preparation of Sancocho de Pescado (like a fish stew of some sort), in big chunks.  We also ate it in Chupe de Gallina, another chicken soup, but very hearty. I also recall it served as a pure (like mashed potatoes, but of Apio), in some fancy restaurants.  So it’s safe to say, I loved Apio!
Fast-forward a few years… and all of a sudden… I forgot about Apio! I moved to the US, where nobody knows about Apio, and I guess it just slipped my mind. Until, I had a crazy craving for some delicious Apio Soup. So I ask myself, what is apio in English? What does Apio translate to? I “Googled it”. As it turns out, apio means celery. Simple enough. All I have to find is Creamy Celery Soup. Guess what? Campbell’s makes Cream of Celery, so I should probably just go buy one at the store. So I did. I came home with my can of soup, and I cooked it on the stove, and was a bit puzzled about the green color, but hey, the can says Cream of Celery, so it must be right… I try it… YUCK!!!! This isn’t APIO!!!! Of course NOT! Dummy!!!
I go back to the drawing board… Google, that is.  Oh, of course! Apio IS celery, yes, but that is what we in Venezuela call “Apio españa”, Spanish (from Spain) Apio. Ok, my bad! Now I realize I am looking for something else. I call my mom, my aunt, my cousin, my sister, my grandma, my other grandma, and pretty much everyone I know to ask about Apio. I had never seen the raw product, I only saw the cooked product, and so I didn’t know what it was supposed to look like. The general description was “It looks like a potato, but more like a stick of carrot, and with weird limbs coming out of it, like ginger, but it is yellow on the inside”. WHAT? So I begin my search for this Apio. I bought something that sort of matched the description of what they told me, which was called Parsnip. I went home and cooked it. It wasn’t it. I bought Turnip. That wasn’t it either. Finally, after researching all over the Internet, I find out what it was. It is called Celery Root here in America. But guess what? They don’t sell it anywhere. So I asked around all the markets I could find, until I finally found “Celery Root” at a new organic market that had opened up. YES! Finally I get to make my Apio Soup. I buy it, I send pictures to everyone to make sure it is the right one, and they said it was. I make the soup, IT’S NOT IT!!! At least it didn’t taste like it to me, and it wasn’t really yellow, it was more like beige.
I came down to South Florida to visit my family and I asked for my cousin to cook me some Apio. We went to the local Hispanic Super Market, where they sold Celery Root, BUT it was labeled “Celery Root: Apio Venezolano”. So I knew it HAD to be the right thing. And of course, my cousin cooked it for me, and it WAS the right kind of Apio. But then I knew I could only find it either in South Florida or in Venezuela.
Now here I am, after 5 years, back in Florida.  Of course, my first post HAS to be about Apio, because I went to the Hispanic Market called Sedano’s and I found my “Apio Venezolano”.  I bought it, I brought it home, I peeled it (it was yellow, how it’s supposed to be), then I cooked it, it smelled like apio, then I tasted it, and… IT WAS APIO!!!
So, I know only a few of you, those lucky enough to find the real Apio Venezolano, are going to be able to make this recipe. However, I must say the Parsnip version was pretty close to it.  Also, this recipe is good for any kind of tuber vegetable or almost any vegetable for that matter.

Celery Root: Apio Venezolano

Celery Root: Apio Venezolano

What you need:
– 500 grams of Apio Venezolano (about 2 to 3 big pieces)
– 4 ¼ cups of Chicken Broth
– Salt
Optional:
- Queso Blanco (Yet another hard to find ingredient)
– 2 tbsp. butter
– ¼ Onion
– Cilantro
– Basil
– Leeks
– Cream Cheese
Preparation:
1. Peel the Apio. Use a knife first for the tougher parts, and then you can use a regular potato peeler for the rest.

Peel the Apio Carefully

Peel the Apio Carefully

2. Cut the Apio in half, so that it fits in the pot and the water covers it. This step is optional.
3. Cook the Apio and the Chicken Broth in high heat for about 25 minutes, or until the Apio is soft. Just like you would if you where boiling potatoes.

Cook the Apio

Cook the Apio

4. At this point you can add the optional ingredients for extra flavor, such as the onion (in big pieces so its easy to remove later), the cilantro, the basil and the leeks.

Optional: Cilantro

Optional: Cilantro

5. Once the Apio is done, remove the optional ingredients (or you can leave them if you wish), and remove the Apio from the broth.

Remove Apio from Broth

Remove Apio from Broth

6. Puree the Apio using a food processor (and optional ingredients if you wish), and then slowly add the stock little by little until you reach the desired consistency. This is supposed to be a “cream of apio” soup, but if you puree the apio first, and then add the broth bit by bit, mixing well, you can stop adding broth when you have reached the desired consistency, so you don’t have a soup that is too thick or too thin. You can also add the optional butter here to help it reach the desired consistency.

Puree the Apio

Puree the Apio

7. Return the mixture to the pot and cook on low heat for another 10 minutes or so. You can add the remaining broth if it starts to thicken too much.

Pureed Apio

Pureed Apio

8. Serve with optional cubes of Queso Blanco, or toast, or Cream Cheese, or all three. I myself like to have the cream cheese on the table and just scoop some into my soup and eat a little piece with each spoonful. Delicious!

Optional: Queso Blanco

Optional: Queso Blanco

Crema de Apio Venezolano

Crema de Apio Venezolano

Venezuelan Cream of Celery Root

Venezuelan Cream of Celery Root

¡Buen Provecho!

Just for reference of what apio ISN’T, here are the pictures of the first attempt of Celery Root bought at a local organic market. NOT Venezuelan Apio for sure!

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

Celery Root, but NOT Apio Venezolano

More on Apio
Other names I have found for Venezuelan Apio include Celeriac and Arracacha, but I haven’t confirmed these myself.
Also, Apio could be a good substitute for Potatoes in all kinds of preparations, because it has less calories (nutritional facts coming soon).

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43 Responses to “Recipe: Crema de Apio Venezolano | Venezuelan “Celery Root” Soup”

  1. L Armstrong March 29, 2012 at 17:04 #

    What you want is “Arracacha”, the english translation on the package is “Yellow Yuca”. I buy mine at a Miami Publix, in the frozen food section (next to the frozen Cassava).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arracacha

    • mwolowicz April 1, 2012 at 14:31 #

      L Armstrong,

      Great tip… I will have to check it out and cook it to see if there is any difference from the fresh Venezuelan Apio at the local hispanic market/.

      MW

  2. David March 31, 2012 at 10:21 #

    HI
    I’m English but live in Cojedes, Venezuela. I am a keen horticulturist and have a private botanic garden here. I have never seen Apio in any Enlish supermarket. Celery Root is known in England as Celeriac. The botanic name (which should be in italics) of Celerey is Apium graveolans var. dulce, and Celeriac is A. graviolens var. rapaceum.
    I have never seen Apio growing and would like to see a photo of what it looks like. I presume it comes from high elevation as I have tried to cultivate it here but it just fades away in my heat.
    David

    • mwolowicz April 1, 2012 at 14:35 #

      David,

      Thank you for your comment and scientific explanations :) … I did know about the “Celeriac” name for celery root, because when I initially found it at an Earth Fare supermarket in Montgomery, AL, the salesperson told me many tourists had bought it to make soups from that store, but they had called it Celeriac.

      I do not have a picture of growing Apio, however, I will try to research the subject and see if I can find one or take one myself. I think you might have a better chance of seeing it in Venezuela, than I have of seeing it here, though ;)

      MW

    • Winny Aschenbrenner May 8, 2014 at 13:36 #

      Hi David, I searched about it on google and found this piece of information: Arracacia xanthorrhiza
      Plant
      Arracacia xanthorrhiza is a root vegetable originally from the Andes, somewhat intermediate between the carrot and celery. Its starchy taproot is a popular food item in South America where it is a major commercial crop. Wikipedia
      Scientific name: Arracacia xanthorrhiza
      Rank: Species
      Higher classification: Arracacia
      Just google the name Arracacia Xanthorrhiza and it’ll show all kinds of info about it :)

      • mwolowicz May 26, 2014 at 09:38 #

        Winny,

        Thank you for visiting the blog and thank you for the information.

        MW

  3. Kathy June 4, 2012 at 19:03 #

    Thank your for the explanation. I too, have fond memories of apio, specifically a pumpkin apio cream soup that knocked my socks off. Being that I don’t like pumpkin…I actually ate two bowls the first time I had it (in a restaurant). .I’ve also had it in the chicken soup as you described. Yes, celery root tastes nothing like the apio available in venezuela, and like you, I had never seen the raw product, only cooked. Well, I probably did see it, but my mom never picked it up to with at home.

    • mwolowicz June 6, 2012 at 06:03 #

      Kathy,

      I am glad this post helped you out! I hope you are able to find it wherever you are. You can try any latin market even if they are not specifically Venezuelan. Just make sure the “celery root” (which is how they might label it) is yellow when you cut it raw. Otherwise it won’t taste like apio :(

  4. Betty F July 9, 2012 at 13:38 #

    Hola, muy bueno tu blog. Yo vivo en CT y en los supermercados latinos (ctown, Compare o Food Bazaar) consigues apio y además con el mismo nombre…. De hecho hoy estoy haciendo crema de apio!!!! Ummmm…. Acerca de tu receta de guasacaca, la tradicional venezolana lleva cilantro y no perejil, haz la prueba y verás que sabe mejor!!!! Saludos criollos….

    • mwolowicz July 9, 2012 at 15:43 #

      Betty,

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad that you are able to find Apio where you live!… I have tried cilantro instead of parsley on my recipe and I like the cilantro better. I had the traditional option with parsley. But I always make it with Cilantro. I think I made a mistake in my personal recipe (not the traditional one), but I will change it right away! Thank you for pointing that out!

      MW

  5. Mercedes Ramirez Ruiz July 18, 2012 at 14:16 #

    el apio criollo es en realidad arracacha o virraca (Arracacia xanthorrhiza)

  6. Andrea August 9, 2012 at 15:49 #

    You know who sells apio venezolano already cooked? IKEA. It is in their restaurant menu, at least in Canada where I couldn’t find it in the super either. Ikea sells it as part of a veggie mix.

    • mwolowicz August 10, 2012 at 04:05 #

      Andrea,

      Thank you for that tip. I will have to go to the IKEA down here in South Florida to see if they sell it as well… I will let readers know if they do :)

      MW

  7. Rafael July 9, 2013 at 20:31 #

    You are MY HERO!!! I’ve been craving crema de apio for the longest time and my mom still lives in Venezuela so she can’t really explain how to get it here. I might just run to Sedano’s and get me some apio so I can make my crema de apio! I’m so happy right now!!! :)

    • mwolowicz July 9, 2013 at 20:53 #

      Rafael,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, and for your beautiful comment. It makes me very happy when I can connect Venezuelans to their favorite Venezuelan recipes. Please let me know if Sedano’s had apio, and if you were able to make some apio soup for yourself. You have made my day.

      MW

    • Adina January 13, 2014 at 22:46 #

      You can get your Apio Criollo in the Sedano’s & also in the Publix, freezers, here in Miami,FL. It comes frozen, peeled and ready to cook, the name is ARRACACHA , there are two brands: El Sembrador & La Fe, and it’s a product from Colombia….Nada como una cremita de apio!

      • mwolowicz January 20, 2014 at 14:44 #

        Adina,

        Thank you for this tip. I did purchase the frozen arracacha from La Fe at Sedano’s but I cannot comment on the quality or flavor, because it went bad before I ever used it. I continue to buy the fresh kind at Sedano’s.

        MW

  8. Liv October 12, 2013 at 22:03 #

    I live in Miami,but I haven”t see any apio venezolano here, I read your blog and you found it at sedanos , please let me know the address or any place that I could found it here in miami,I”m really love crema de apio. Thank you in advance,appreciate.

    • mwolowicz October 14, 2013 at 10:40 #

      Liv,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. In regards to your question I suggest that you find the Sedano’s store that is closest to you. You can look at a map of all their stores I would call the store before you go, and ask if they have any “Apio Venezolano” in stock. I have found it at both their stores located in Pembroke Pines, but sometimes they don’t have it. Therefore, now I call before I head on over there and I make sure that they have some in stock. Please let us know if you where able to find it and where.

      Thank you,

      MW

      PS: Here is the information of the specific Sedano’s stores located in Pembroke Pines in which I have found Apio Venezolano in multiple occasions, but they also run out of it sometimes and they don’t re-stock for a few months (I believe that the Apio at Sedano’s is imported from Dominican Republic). It is best to call ahead.
      • Pembroke Pines #34: 17171 Pines Boulevard, Pembroke Pines FL 33027 – 954-499-7815
      • Pembroke Pines #27: 10333 Pines Boulevard, Pembroke Pines FL 33025 – 954-450-0793

  9. Edwin Meyer October 24, 2013 at 15:44 #

    Apio! Finally! I have had the same experience looking for this wonderful golden root. This is my Proustian Madeleine: and today I found it at Sedanos. I’ve been living in South Florida from NYC and out of Venezuela for decades. Today una crema de apio, tomorrow a sancocho con apio, and who mows maybe a gratin de apio. For the record: I have found fresh guanabana at the grocery store, El Bodegon in Broward County, and some great arepas throughout both West Broward along with Miami Beach, and of course Doral. Viva la comida Venezolana-unfortunately with the situation back home we probably have more food here than there. Now for a
    Toronto-

    • mwolowicz October 24, 2013 at 21:39 #

      Edwin,

      Thank you so much for visiting the blog and for your comment. I am so glad you too have found Apio. Do you mind telling us which Sedano’s location had Apio? Gratén de Apio sounds really good right now. My mom is visiting from Venezuela next year, I might just ask her to make some for me. I have never been to ‘El Bodegon’, but I will definitely look it up.

      MW

      • Edwin Meyer October 24, 2013 at 23:06 #

        Hi MW, I went to the Sedanos at the Southgate Mall which is at Rock island Blvd and Southgate Dr. El Bodegon is on Sample Rd in Margate and try the Rest. Las delicias de Columbia when u go it’s very good. Regards, EM

  10. Daniela February 10, 2014 at 19:57 #

    Hello! I have been living in Miami for almost 20 years and I looked so often for “apio criollo” and never ocurred to me that I would find it frozen under such a different name (for me): Arracacha…….But “nunca es tarde cuando la dicha es buena”. I bought it today and, as you say, the moment it started to boil it filled the house with that familiar and wonderful aroma! I found it at Sedanos (Bird Road and Galloway which is SW 40th St and 87 Ave, at the ethnic frozen products). Thank you so much for the tip.
    Best regards, DB.

    • mwolowicz February 10, 2014 at 22:25 #

      Daniela,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. This is one of the recipes where I get the most “thankyous” for letting people know where to find Venezuelan apio. I am glad you found apio, too. Thank you also for sharing where you found apio.

      MW

      • Arantza Kreiser February 19, 2014 at 17:38 #

        I live in Dallas, TX. Would love to find some apio criollo or Arracacha (if it is the same) Please let me know where in Dallas can I find it….
        Gracias de corazon

        • mwolowicz February 19, 2014 at 18:03 #

          Arantza Kreiser,

          Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. I don’t have knowledge as to where to find Apio in Dallas, but I will ask around and let you know if I find anything.

          Also, if you end up finding it, please report back on this post so others can find it as well.

          MW

  11. Adina February 10, 2014 at 23:39 #

    For the ones who live closer to Hollywood, the SEDANO’S located at 441 between Sheridan St. and Thomas St. has ARRACACHA in their frozen vegetables freezer, so does PUBLIX at Sheridan Plaza ( Sheridan St. 52 St.)
    MW : always keep the frozen Arracacha in the freezer, I’ve had it this way for months and it is always fine, keep in mind that the frozen vegetable will be soft after defreezing,never the same consistency of a fresh, peeled one,but it doesn’t change its flavor

    • mwolowicz February 11, 2014 at 10:07 #

      Adina,

      Thank you for visiting the blog and thank you for your comment. Thank you very much for sharing this information, I also live in Hollywood and didn’t know they did sell apio (arracacha) in the Sedano’s on 441. I called once and asked about apio and they told me they didn’t have any, so I always go all the way to the Pembroke Pines Sedano’s to get my apio. Thank you for the tip.

      MW

  12. Adina February 10, 2014 at 23:48 #

    Does any body know where to find AJI DULCE ? it is so important in Venezuelan cooking,there is something similar called AJI CACHUCHA, but it’s not the same aroma
    Thanks,
    Adina

    • mwolowicz February 11, 2014 at 10:11 #

      Adina,

      The closest thing I have found to Ají Dulce Venezolano are the “PERO Family Farms mini Sweet peppers”. I have bought them at Publix, but you are right, they don’t have the same aroma and flavors as ají dulce venezolano. Here is a picture:

      PERO Family Farms mini Sweet peppers

      MW

      • Adina February 11, 2014 at 15:21 #

        Thank you for your tip, MW !

        I’ve tried those,they are very nice grilled in the oven ,used as a side to any food, but they taste like the bigger,red,green,yellow & orange peppers not like aji dulce…I wish somebody will cultivate them here, and let us know ! I brought dried aji dulce that comes in sealed bags from Venezuela, but it is still not the same flavor & aroma as the fresh ones .

        • mwolowicz February 11, 2014 at 17:08 #

          Adina,

          I will ask my mom if she can bring some seeds for me and maybe I can cultivate some myself. If I’m successful I will share some. We will see.

          MW

          • Adina February 12, 2014 at 00:37 #

            Thank you,MW !
            I hope you’ll be succesful
            I brought some seeds from the Margarita Island ajies dulces and I had no success with them, very small plants started to grow, and never got bigger, maybe they need to be in a garden,I live in an apt. and I put them on the terrace, they received a lot of sun, but didn’t like it here…

            • mwolowicz February 12, 2014 at 10:40 #

              Adina,

              I am horrible with plants, I kill them all. However, I am counting on my mother in law and my husband who are green thumbs, to see this through. My mother in law already has some vegetables, hot peppers, cilantro, green onions and a lot more in her garden. Just yesterday she was cooking “Bulgogi” (A Korean beef dish) for us, and she just went to her backyard one second to grab some green onions, it was amazing. I hope she can grow some ají dulce for us. I will let you know how it goes.

              MW

              • Adina February 12, 2014 at 12:00 #

                Thank you so much,MW !!!

  13. norah montes April 14, 2014 at 15:09 #

    hola…feliz de leer que existen otras personas sufriendo por el apio criollo. Aqui en España, tenemos 4 años en Barcelona, ha sido imposible conseguir el apio criollo, ni en automercados, ni en La Boqueria, ni los paquis, y nosotros añorando esa crema de apio…mi prima acaba de llegar de nuestro pais y sorpresivamente pudo pasar dos kilos de apio en una simple bolsa plastica no al vacio..ahora, como hare para sembrarlo¡¡¡¡¡””?’ porque me da dolor comermelo y luego, a sufrir de nuevo. Por fa..si alguien sabe que me responda. Gracias..

    • mwolowicz April 14, 2014 at 16:58 #

      Norah,

      Gracias por visitar el blog, y gracias por tu comentario. Me alegra saber que tu prima pudo llevar Apio desde Venezuela hasta Barcelona, y también que bueno que lo pudo pasar sin problemas. Te entiendo completamente eso de no querer comértelo todo y luego no tenerlo. Por lo que tengo entendido el apio es difícil de cultivar, incluso en Venezuela. La verdad yo no sabría decirte con certeza cómo sembrarlo. Si fuese yo, me arriesgaría un pedazo y lo sembrara entero. Total, el apio (venezolano) es simplemente la raíz del apio verde (o apio españa), así que si lo siembras tendrás apio españa por arriba de la tierra (el apio verde, o ‘celery’ en inglés) y puede que se reproduzca la raíz por debajo (apio venezolano – o celery root). Pero no sé si es fácil que se reproduzca la raíz y que crezca otra raíz, suena difícil. Por favor regresa por acá y cuentanos si pudiste sembrar y crecer más apio.

      Saludos y suerte,

      MW

  14. Eli May 2, 2014 at 23:53 #

    Hola MW,
    Me emocione tanto leyendo tu historia sobre como buscabas el apio, que al final casi lloro de emocion!! ya que me vi reflejada, y cuando dices que lo encontraste aqui en Miami senti tal felicidad, que me sorprendio a mi misma. Muchas gracias por compartir tu experiencia por este medio, asi todos los venezolanos podemos obtener y compartir la informacion. Mi imaginacion vuela ahora recordando el aroma y sabor especial del apio, pues nunca me imagine que lo podian vender congelado en publix y mejor aun, fresco en el sedanos! Hoy vi guanabanas en un supermercado llamado Price Choice, solo que el precio me parecio alto, pero es la primera vez que la veo en su estado natural en un supermercado de Miami, es otro producto que raras veces venden asi por estos lares.

    • mwolowicz May 26, 2014 at 09:38 #

      Eli,

      Gracias por tu comentario y por visitar el blog. Espero que puedas conseguir apio pronto, para que puedas comerlo. Avisanos en dónde lo conseguiste si lo consigues. Saludos.

      MW

  15. Winny Aschenbrenner May 8, 2014 at 14:01 #

    Hi Melissa, thank you so much for creating this blog. The explanations are very easy to understand as well as it’s fun to read the stories behind the recipes and your anecdotes. Food is a big part of peoples culture and backgrounds, it connects people from all walks of life, it brings us together in a very special way. I really enjoy reading your blog, and you have no idea how much I’ve been wanting to have a nice big bowl of “crema de Apio” and how much I’ve looked for it since I’ve moved to Texas in 2001! but finally just a few weeks ago looking through the frozen area in a latin supermarket chain in texas called “Fiesta” I found it, the Apio it’s sold already peeled and frozen, the brand is “Dona Emiliana” Arracacha/Apio, the bag also has a web page address http://www.colagricola.com perhaps the product can be order thru them directly.
    I’m making your recipe for the Crema de Apio today! I like to also make white rice and serve a bit of rice on the soup and shredded white cheese on it as well.
    I’m from Valle de la Pascua, Edo. Guarico, “el llano venezolano” the planes in venezuela, and that’s how they served the Apio cream in my house, as well as in “sancochos”, purees, and was also mixed with squash “Auyama criolla” to make a very silky smooth delicious cream soup. Great memories……. Thank you for sharing your awesome blog. Un fuerte abrazo :)

    • mwolowicz May 26, 2014 at 09:42 #

      Winny,

      Thank you again for visiting the blog and for your nice comment. I am glad you found apio in Texas. My mom was recently visiting me from Venezuela and she made crema de apio, and crema de auyama, and sancochos as well. She would leave some of it as soup, and blend some of it to make cream, then she would freeze it in several different containers and we had soup for days. We also like to eat it with rice sometimes and with queso blanco, too. We also like to add pieces of cream cheese in it as well. And we also ate some with Casabe. Please let us know if you where able to follow my recipe, and how it turned out. You can also use these instructions to make crema de auyama. I will be posting soon my mom’s sancocho recipe as well.

      MW

  16. Lee July 24, 2014 at 06:01 #

    Ok….I live on Long Island, New York – CAN NOT FIND APEO anywhere! Can anyone help me?

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