CELERY is being harvested now and it's looking good despite the adverse weather conditions this year.

This versatile vegetable is worth buying as it can be chopped fine and sprinkled into salads, or eaten raw with a pinch of salt. It is also the perfect accompaniment to cheese, and a must when cooking casseroles and soups.

Nothing need be wasted. Just trim the base and use the stalks throughout the week. Even those lovely pale leaves can be added to the pot or used as a garnish.

A great deal of the celery on our supermarket shelves is grown hydroponically in Holland and lacks the gutsy taste of the home-grown variety, so look out for celery that has been grown locally - the telltale signs are often the specks of soil at its base.

For enough soup to serve six, you will need: One large head of celery 2oz (50g) butter One medium-sized floury potato One medium onion Small bunch parsley - chopped One pt (570ml) boiling water One tspn vegetable bouillon powder 5 fl oz (150 ml) single cream Salt and freshly-ground black peppercorns to season Method: Cut the stalks of celery into reasonably thin slices after washing them thoroughly Rough-chop the onion Peel the potato and cut into small cubes Place the butter into a large saucepan over medium heat and allow to melt, then stir in the celery, potato, onion and parsley Place a lid on the pan and allow the contents to cook gently for about ten minutes, giving the pan a stir now and again. Take care not to let the butter burn Pour the boiling water on the mix, add seasoning and the vegetable bouillon powder, place the lid back on and allow to cook for a further 30 to 45 minutes Once the vegetables are soft, remove from the stove, allow to cool a little, then add the cream and liquidize to a purée Check seasoning, reheat in a clean pan and serve garnished with a little parsley, celery leaves or home-made croutons.

NOTE: For added flavour, try crumbling a little Stilton cheese into the soup just before it's liquidized.