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.]

Minestrone and a new way to cook beans

It snowed last night and actually stuck to the ground . . . pretty early for the Twin Cities . . . melted by afternoon, but more expected tonight. As soon as the weather forecast said “snow”, I started thinking about soup. So yesterday I stocked up on onions and celery and carrots and such. And today I brewed up a big pot of Minestrone, aka Italian Vegetable Soup. I followed Marcella Hazan’s recipe from “The Classic Italian Cookbook”, though I left out the cabbage (I would have added kale, but the store I was at yesterday didn’t have any that looked good) and didn’t bother to leave it boiling for 3 hours . . . after 90 minutes I was too hungry to wait any longer 🙂

I don’t like to post recipes stolen from other sources, but I can give the basics for this soup without much guilt. For the specific details, buy Marcella’s book . . . (my paperback copy cost $5.95 many years ago and may no longer be available . . . her newer edition is called “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” but I’m betting it includes a pesto recipe.

Minestrone Soup

Put some oil and butter in the bottom of a big soup pot. Thinly slice half of a large onion (or a whole smaller onion) and add it to the pot at medium heat. Add to this some chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini, and green beans (I used 1 cup each of the carrots, celery, and green beans and 2 cups of the potatoes and zucchini). For this recipe don’t bother to prep everything ahead of time, just chop and drop each veggie into the pot, give everything a stir each time, and keep the heat low enough so nothing starts burning.

(Once all the veggies have cooked for several minutes, I would usually add several cups of chopped kale and cook until it wilts a bit.)

Add 6 cups vegatable broth (or a combination of broth and water) and one 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes. Cook at a slow boil until thick (90 minutes – 3 hours). About 15 minutes before serving add 1-2 cups cooked pasta and/or cooked white beans (see instructions below). Just before serving (or in the individual bowls) add a large pinch of parmesan cheese and/or a big spoon of pesto.

Cooking Dried Beans

I’ve always had trouble cooking dried beans. Either they boil too rapidly and split and/or boil over OR I set the heat too low and they don’t cook. Here’s a method I had never heard of before (adapted from Marcella Hazan).

1. Soak beans overnight covered in 2″ of cold water. (I used 3/4 cup of small white beans for my soup.)

2. Preheat oven to 325°F.

3. Rinse and drain the beans and put them in a large casserole dish or pot that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven and has a lid (I used a 3-quart corning ware casserole dish). Cover with 2″ of water.

4. Bring the beans to a boil on top of the stove. Cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for 40-60 minutes. Leave in their water until ready to use.

This method worked GREAT! Nice tender beans with much less hassle.