Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Root Soup

Winter break is over and classes have resumed. I am so incredibly blessed that I get to take classes that teach me everything I could ever want to learn about my life passion: Food. Nutrition, Hospitality Supervision, and Culinary Principles II - I get to learn all aspects of the field, and I enjoy every minute of it! For my first class of Culinary Principles II, we started with what my instructor likes to call 'Scratch and Sniff', although there's no scratching involved. He sets out a tray of herbs and spices, all numbered, and we guess which each is. This time, he also included uncommon vegetables. Parsnips, purple fingerling potatoes and celery root. I had never worked with nor tasted celery root, so I asked him to tell me about it as well as how to cook it.

Inspired, that night I went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients I would need for a 'Root' soup. I started with a mirepoix, which is 2:1:1 of onion, celery and carrots, respectively. I chopped several carrots, parsnips, potatoes and celery root, and saved the trimmings. I added about a gallon of water to the mirepoix, and the trimmings of the vegetables. This boiled for 2, nearly 3 hours, until all the flavor of the vegetables has been dispersed through the water. Next, I roasted the chopped vegetables for just 6 minutes, to impart more flavor. Then, I drained the broth and reserved the liquid and the vegetables. Using the same pot, I again started a mirepoix, then added the broth, along with the slightly roasted vegetables and spices. Finally, I pureed 2/3 of the vegetables used for the broth, and added them to the soup, giving a velvety contrast to the slightly crunchy vegetables.

This soup is the best soup I've ever made, hand down. Using both dried and fresh herbs adds both a light and a 'wintery' flavor to the broth. This is a wonderful soup for a bone-chilling, blistery winter night. Roots are sometimes viewed as peasant food, and this soup has a rustic feel, but it is also refined: the extra steps such as making the broth from scratch and roasting the vegetables, adds layer after layer of complex flavors.

Next time you're feeling under the weather, this soup is the perfect sick-day lunch. Freeze it in plastic containers to heat up for a quick meal. Refrigerate the soup for up to one week.

Winter Root Soup

Makes 9 - 1.5 cup servings

1 2lb bag large carrots, medium dice to make 1 3/4 cups, save scraps
5 parsnips, medium dice, save scraps
1 celery root, medium dice, throw away outside, save unused flesh,
2 1/2 cups onion, medium dice
1 bag celery, medium dice to make 1 1/4 cups, save scraps and extra stalks
3 medium potatoes
4 quarts water
1/4 cup white wine
1 large clove garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
2 leaves fresh basil
Dried thyme
Dried oregano
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black Pepper

In a medium stock pot (6 quarts), heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion, cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add 3/4 cup carrots and 3/4 cup celery, cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the onions translucent. Add the carrot scraps, parsnip scraps, unused flesh of celery root and the tops, bottoms and extra celery stalks. Cook for two minutes, and add four quarts of water. Cover, and boil over medium-high heat for 2-3 hours. The longer the better!

In a large bowl combine 1/2 cup carrots, celery root, parsnips and potatoes. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Spread onto a foil-covered cookie sheet, roast at 400 for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. When the broth has cooked for 2-3 hours, strain the vegetables, reserving the broth and vegetables. Return the pot to the stove.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over low heat and add onion. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add carrots and celery, and cook 5-6 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add minced garlic and rosemary and cook another minute, stirring constantly. Deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off the bottom. Next, slowly pour in the reserved broth, and turn heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the roasted vegetables and 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano. Cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes. In a food processor or blender, puree 2/3 reserved vegetables from the broth with 2 leaves fresh basil. The vegetables should be very smooth. Add to the stock pot, and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste, about 1 1/2 teaspoons and 3/4 teaspoon, respectively. Simmer another 3-6 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, but not overcooked, Al Dente, if you will. Serve in warm bowls with a teaspoon of cream swirled on top and a fresh basil leaf. Enjoy!

Click below to enlarge nutrition facts


  1. Sounds perfect for January in the Mid-west! Thanks for including the nutrition info.

  2. That does look like the perfect winter soup - and filling, too! Parsnips, done right, can be absolutely fantastic. Definitely looks like you did them justice here ...

  3. The soup looks so comforting and yummy!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind comment! :)