Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Vegetable Soup

It's getting colder out there. The nights are getting longer and worst of all, the big, bright, local, fresh veggies are dwindling! 

It appears it's time to remember our starchy root friends and the comfort they provide in these dark months.

<<<   Remember this guy?

Yeah, he’s not pretty, but man is he tasty! As well being as low in calories and high in fiber, it has 0 fat or cholesterol and is less starchy than many other roots. And did I mention that it’s delicious?

Its many names include celeriac, celery root, turnip rooted celery and celery knob. As you may guess, it is a relative of common celery, bred to have a bigger bulb. It is mild, somewhat like a celery and parsley blend, so it adds a great flavor to this soup (or other stews).

As is often suggested, I paired it with potatoes as a base, threw in some more veggies and roasted. I prepped this two ways, blended and left whole.

This recipe is vegan, gluten free and very easy if you simply use what you have on hand. 

Root Vegetable Soup


1 Large Celeriac
2 Large (or 4-5 baby) Potatoes – I used the ones at the local farm, no idea what they are called
1 large Sweet Potato
2-3 Carrot Sticks – my farm has the fun rainbow kind
5 Shallots
Grapeseed/Olive oil
Dried Thyme
1 Quart Vegetable stock - I make mine, but if you don’t, you should go organic, you never know what’s in that carton
Vegetarian Protein – Use silken tofu if blending, firm or extra firm, or even tempeh, if leaving in chunks.
Alternatively, you could use a few good dollops of creme fraiche or sour cream to get that creamy texture and added protein

***Organic vegetable proteins (tofu, tempeh, ect) are best all around - no genetically modified franken-soy for me please.***

~Optional but fabulous~
Korean Red Pepper for a slight kick in the finished product – I have a huge bag that I use for making Kimchi and thought of it just before I popped the baking pan in the oven. Replace with some chili pepper or a bit of ground red pepper and cayenne if you want to.

As always, sub as desired. Play with colors and flavors. Beets would add great color and sweetness; parsnips have a distinctly creamy texture and taste; throw in some squash in place of sweet potato if you’re feeling adventurous. My second serving was accented with a few tablespoons of leftover tomato sauce that I had wanted to use up.

Peel and Chop

Celeriac is awful looking. You need to pare away the tough skin and deep set dirt to get to the creamy flesh inside. You should rinse it and just start hacking away with a knife, as you would a pineapple. No mere carrot peeler will do. Once it looks mostly clean and white, chop it into large chunks. You can always discard the bits with the dirty creases in them.

Peel and chop the white and sweet potatoes, carrots and anything else you are using, to uniform bite size pieces (especially if you want to keep the final product whole). Peel the shallots and ½ or quarter, depending on the size. I have little ones this time, so halves it was.

Mix and Roast

Toss all veggies with a couple tablespoons of oil, just to keep them from drying out, salt and pepper to taste, and about a teaspoon of dried thyme (or fresh if you have it) and red pepper. 

Lie out on a pan and roast at 350’ for about 30-40 minutes, until everything is fork tender.

Simmer and Blend

While those are in the oven, get your quart of stock up to a nice temperature. You don’t want to boil it or cook it down too much, the water is needed to thin the starchiness of the potatoes. You just want it hot.

Add the roasted veggies to the stock and simmer for a few minutes. You want to make sure there aren’t any hard, sharp edges in there. You won’t lose any of the depth of flavor achieved by roasting, I promise.

Since there is a negligible amount of protein in the soup, and I wanted a creamy blended type dish, I added ½ a block of silken tofu to the mix. Between the stock and that, the end result was a thick and hearty soup with a smooth, creamy texture.

Carefully ladle the mixture into a blender and blend until the tofu is completely incorporated and your product is creamy and smooth. It is very quick. Season, if needed, and enjoy.

If keeping the pieces whole, add any protein you like, silken can still work, but firm may be better. Tempeh is good, though be sure to CHECK to see that it’s gluten free. You would be done with this step. Enjoy.

Be careful handing hot soup, in whatever form or step. Burns are easy to come by when you have to keep transferring liquids. 


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