Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

I’ve been attempting a “no wheat, no dairy” diet for several weeks now. (Why? long story for another time.) This means lots of rice, quinoa, salads, and soups. Here’s one of my recent creations. I know “technically” it is now spring and we should be done with winter root vegetables, but up here in Minnesota it still looks and feels alot like winter . . .

Roasted Winter Root Vegetable Soup

Roasting some of the vegetables before making them into soup really brings out their sweetness.  Use your imagination with this recipe: substitute other root or winter veggies (yellow beets, butternut squash, white potatoes, leeks, etc), roast more or fewer of them (or none at all), and/or swap in other spices (curry powder goes great with this type of soup).

Ingredients
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4″-1″ pieces
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced into 3/4″-1″ pieces
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into 3/4″-1″ pieces
2-4 Tbls. olive oil, divided
1 large onion (or 2 small), very thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
5 medium carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp. thyme (or 1 fresh sprig)
1 Tbls. minced parsley (or 1 fresh sprig or 1/2 Tbls. dry)
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper, or to taste
6-8 cups vegetable stock or water (or a combination)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

While oven is heating, cut up sweet potato, turnip, and parsnip.  Spread sweet potato, turnip, and parsnip pieces out on a baking pan.  Coat with 2-3 Tbls. oil.  Place in oven to roast while you prepare the rest of the veggies (40-60 minutes).

Heat 1 Tbls. oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot.  Add the onion.  Cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften, 3-5 minutes.  Add the celery.  Cook, stirring frequently, 3-5 minutes.  Add the carrots.  Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and ginger.  Don’t let anything brown/burn.

Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add to the pot.  Stir to combine everything.  Add bay leaf, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

Pour in stock/water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer one hour or until everything is nicely cooked and soft enough to blend.

Turn off the heat.

REMOVE bay leaf (and thyme sprig if used).

Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender.  Taste to adjust seasonings.

Serve and Enjoy!

Yield: approx. 2 quarts.

NOTES

  • More obsessive chefs than I would tell you to leave the seasonings (garlic, ginger, bay leaf, thyme, parsley) whole, wrap them in cheesecloth, tie to make a “bouquet garni”, and add to the pot.  This process does make it easier to remove them before blending, but I can’t be bothered.  Just make sure you use a big enough bay leaf to be easily found and removed before blending.
  • There are other ways to purée soup if you don’t have an immersion blender, but why not just buy one?  For smoothies and puréeing cooked veggies the cheap ($9.99) versions work just fine (though apparently you can spend up to $40 bucks on the super-duper motor-a-boat versions).  If you MUST purée your soup in a food processor or blender, just be careful, let the soup cool a bit before blending (or things might explode), and do only a little at a time.
  • Even more obsessive cooks would tell you that after puréeing, you should put the soup through a sieve to remove any possible remaining celery strings, or small chunks of vegetable.  As you may have guessed, (1) I can’t be bothered with that and (2) I consider those strings and bits to give the soup added character.  But if you are serving your soup to the Queen or something . . .

Copyright © 2011, Lucinda DeWitt

[Updated on March 23, 2011 to include the bit about sieving and add correct punctuation to the word purée.]

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

After many requests from friends, I finally made my first attempt at Red Velvet Cake.  I intended to make the Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake from the All Cakes Considered book by Melissa Gray, but after reading some negative reviews (e.g., http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/food-drink/red-velvet-cake/ ) and noticing that the ACC recipe used much more butter and sugar and many more eggs than any other recipe I could find, I decided to do one of my “recipe-mergers” where I combine the ingredients and techniques from several recipes into one that makes sense to me.  Links to the three recipes I ended up combining are at the end.  The only thing I retained from the All Cakes Considered version was using sour cream instead of buttermilk (because I had already bought sour cream for the cake and didn’t want to waste it).  You can find both the cake and frosting recipes here.

 

Red Velvet Cake

 

Red Velvet Cake sliced

[Yes, I know it is not the blood-red cake some of you are expecting.  For that, you need to reduce/leave out the chocolate/cocoa.  A full explanation of the cocoa/food coloring balance is contained in the recipe.]

Enjoy!

 

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

Getting ready to make this for Thanksgiving next week.  Of course had to dig around to find the recipe.  So I’m breaking my rule about not posting other people’s recipes unless I have adapted them myself.  This way I’ll always be able to find this now perennial favorite!

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Food Network
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cranberry-fruit-conserve-recipe/index.html

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 4 cups

Ingredients
1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions
Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled.

NOTE from Lucinda: I don’t use as much sugar as the recipe calls for; I usually keep it to just a little over 1 cup. But if you want the sauce to get more solid when it chills, I think you need to use the amount of sugar listed above . . . . I also sometimes leave out the nuts. Yummy either way.

Gluten-Free Pear-Apple Crumble

Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer desserts with lots of butter, flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream and/or cream cheese.  I also tend not to like ingredients that seek to “mimic” these traditional dessert ingredients (no tofu or quar gum or applesauce or tapioca in my baked goods).  Which means I’m fairly certain that a “vegan dessert” will never come out of my kitchen.  And certainly my own intolerance for “artificial sweeteners” (in all of their guises; they give me migraines) will keep plain old white and brown sugar in my pantry indefinitely.

On the other hand, when a recipe requires only minor variation to go from “traditional” to “restricted diet,” I’m willing to give it a try.  Just as I was getting ready for Autumn Apple Crisp season, I stumbled on several recipes for “Gluten-Free Fruit Crumbles”  that use ground quinoa in place of flour.  I’m a fairly recent, but enthusiastic, convert to quinoa, so I keep a supply of it in the pantry (well actually in the refrigerator).  Once I figured out that my mini-chopper would not grind quinoa but my spare (and well-cleaned) coffee grinder would, I was all set to give “gluten-free dessert” a try.

Here’s what I came up with:

Pear-Apple Crumble with Gluten-Free Oat-Quinoa-Pecan Topping Recipe

Pear-Apple Crumble